Adam Putnam – Page 6 – Florida Politics

House passes Adam Putnam’s priority without contentious gun provision

The Florida House Tuesday passed a priority bill for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam without a toxic gun provision and without considering a contentious bill tied to puppy mills.

The language in the House plan was causing heartburn, but state Rep. Jake Raburn, who is sponsoring the House bill, decided to consider the Senate plan, which was much less contentious.

“We’re taking up the Senate bill in place of the House bill. That language has been removed,” Raburn said.

The House bill came under fire by the House Democrats during a caucus meeting Tuesday morning after members saw the House bill would be on special calendar. State Rep. Sean Shaw said the bill, which covers a wide-range of policy issues overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, was “insidious” because of the gun provision.

That language would have allowed the state to process gun licensing permits within 90 days even if there was an incomplete criminal background check.

Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor who has made gun rights the centerpiece of his campaign, asked for the language to be included in both the House and Senate bills early on in the 2018 Legislative Session. But the provision came under fire after the Parkland school mass shooting.

Earlier Tuesday, Corcoran’s office indicated they would put their language on the Senate bill, a move that ultimately did not happen.

A day after the massacre, the Senate stripped the language from its bill due to a “timing and sensitivity” issue. The upper chamber passed its version last week.

If the House did not take out the gun provision, it would have been extremely unlikely for the proposal to pass the Legislature this year.

Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, the sponsor of the Senate bill, told Florida Politics she would not take up the bill with the gun provision.

In addition to the gun provision, a contentious amendment by state Rep. Halsey Beshears,which was opposed by animal rights advocates, was tossed Tuesday.

The Monticello Republican filed an amendment under the House bill Monday, which would have voided any local ordinances in the state that ban the sale of dogs from USDA-licensed breeders. This could have limited the local government’s ability to crack down on puppy mills and rally animal rights advocates against the bill.

Putnam’s priority bill easily passed the House and is now headed to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

Gwen Graham

Gwen Graham raises $660K in February

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham raised more than $660,000 in February through her two committees and continued to claim dominance in grassroots financial support, now with more than 15,000 individual contributors.

Graham announced Tuesday that her official campaign raised more than $220,000 in February and her political committee Gwen Graham for Florida raised another $440,000.

The political committee’s haul includes a $250,000 check from her father, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

“I believe in Gwen’s leadership, I share Gwen’s priorities, and I know Gwen’s heart for Florida,” he said in a news release from her campaign. “As someone who knows the opportunities and challenges of serving as governor of Florida, this is the very best investment I could make in a stronger future for our state.”

With those February finance tallies, her official campaign now will have raised approximately $2.45 million since she entered the race last May, and Gwen Graham For Florida will have raised almost $3.4 million.

It still keeps her well behind fellow Democratic candidate Philip Levine, whose campaign, bolstered by his own contributions, has not yet released any numbers for February, but which has already spent more money than Graham’s collected on television commercials.

Graham is also behind leading Republican candidate Adam Putnam, whose campaign announced its political committee had raised $440,000 in February, topping $20 million in total income.

Detailed, official reports have not yet been posted by the Florida Secretary of State.

Graham and her campaign focused on the total amount of individual donors as her strength.

“As the Republican politicians in Tallahassee wrap up their 20th session with complete control of the Legislature and Governor’s Office, they proved yet again they work for the special interests, not the people,” Graham said in a news release from her campaign.

“I’m running for governor to work for Florida — to work for our public schools, for our teachers, for our seniors, and for every hardworking Floridian.”

Graham also claimed she so far has attracted more individual donors than each of her primary opponents — former Miami Beach Mayor Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King — has managed on his home turf, in Miami-Dade, Leon, and Orange counties, respectively.

“I am so proud of the grassroots campaign we’re building. From small-dollar donors across the state to outreach meetings in Democratic and Republican counties, we are building a movement to turn Florida blue in 2018,” Graham stated.

Philip Levine placing another nearly $2 million in TV ads

Expressing frustration with what the Florida Legislature is doing with guns and schools, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is placing another nearly $2 million buy for statewide TV commercials this month, his campaign announced Monday.

The commercials will continue for a while with his “We Will” spot that launched in late February on a $750,000 statewide-buy, declaring the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “a wakeup call we can’t ignore.” By mid-March that likely will be replaced by a new TV commercial, his campaign indicated.

Levine is running against former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination. He is the only Democrat to air TV commercials yet, and his buys already have gone over $4 million prior to March. The leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

The latest TV buy will be split between Levine’s independent political committee “All About Florida” and his official Levine for Governor campaign. All About Florida will be spending $630,000 to continue running “We Will” through about March 11, while the official campaign will spend about $1.3 million on TV commercials for the rest of the month. All the commercials will run statewide, in either English or Spanish, depending upon the stations.

“As the Republican Legislature continues their political double talk on legislation, Mayor Philip Levine has made it clear that the time is now to enact sensible gun safety reforms that take Florida from having the weakest gun safety laws in the nation to the strongest,” declared a statement released by campaign consultant Christian Ulvert. “The Mayor opposes efforts to arm teachers with weapons and reaffirms the public’s call for an assault weapons ban, raising the age to 21 for gun purchases, and universal background checks, in addition to closing any loopholes.”

In the current “We Will” commercial Levine expresses his goals of “reasonable gun regulations, better background checks, and a permanent ban on assault rifles.”

The commercial begins with Levine standing next to a school bus saying, “When we send our children off to school, we want to know they’re safe. But here in Florida, despite 14 school shootings in 8 years, we still have some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. And the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High is a wakeup call we can’t ignore.

Adam Putnam committee raises $431K in February

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam raised another $431,000 last month for his political committee, Florida Grown, according to records on the committee’s website.

The new numbers show Florida Grown at nearly $20 million in total fundraising since it was formed in early 2015.

Putnam is running for the GOP nomination for Governor. He currently faces Northeast Florida U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Republican Primary, while House Speaker Richard Corcoran is expected to enter the race after the 2018 Legislative Session.

Florida Grown had about $14 million on hand at the end of January. The new haul was balanced out by about $124,000 in spending. The committee had about $14.3 million in the bank at the end of February.

The largest contribution last month was a $97,000 check from beer distributor August A. Busch, followed by $75,000 from a political committee affiliated with the Associated Industries of Florida.

Putnam’s committee also brought in a half-dozen checks for $25,000. Contributors at that level included Wallace Burt, Barbara Carlton, Mel Sembler, Two Rivers Ranch, Phillips and Jordan Inc., and the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC.

Expenditures last month included $24,748 to Silloh Consulting, $20,800 to Forward Strategies, and $11,166 to Dogwood Communications.

Official campaign finance reports for candidates and committees are due to the Florida Division of Elections by March 12.

At the end of January, Putnam’s campaign account had total fundraising of $4.1 million with nearly $2.8 million on hand.

Hillsborough students say they’ve only just begun to focus on gun control

Only 16 days ago, a mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School took the lives of 14 high school students and three adults.

Nevertheless, some believe the gun control debate is “over.”

That’s what Cafe Con Tampa head Bill Carlson was told when announcing the weekly lecture series would focus on three Hillsborough County students inspired to speak out about the issue.

“The whole world is watching us right now,” 14-year-old Safiyyah Ameer said Friday at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa.

The Blake High School student explained why she and many of her classmates are so focused on doing something to prevent another Parkland from occurring.

While there have been countless gun massacres the U.S. over the past two decades, little has been done legislatively to address the matter.

After a shocking mass shooting in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut killed 20 children, many felt something would finally happen; it did not.

In Parkland, however, from the day after the tragedy, several articulate teenagers from Stoneman Douglas have emerged as media stars through their pronounced comments on gun violence.

And politicians appear ready to respond, at least in Florida.

Measures introduced by Gov. Rick Scott and the House and Senate are being debated fiercely with just a week left in the 2018 Legislative Session.

“We have the power to make change, and we’re using that to our advantage and we’re going to go forward and make change,” said Ameer, who was behind last Friday’s Blake High School walkout and the subsequent rally/news conference at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa.

Alex Barrow, a 16-year-old from Hillsborough High School, told the Cafe Con Tampa audience he and his colleagues met with 40 different students from high schools in Hillsborough Tuesday to strategize about their next actions.

Plans include two upcoming protests: one on March 14, and another on March 24 to coincide with the national march on Washington led by students protesting against gun violence.

Barrow said about 40 different students from different high schools in Hillsborough met this past Tuesday to strategize about their next actions.

While the outrage remains high, several adults in the audience asked the students if they were in the effort for the long haul.

“Persistence will be critical to your success,” advised political consultant Gregory Wilson. “How strong do you believe your resolve will be?”

“It’s definitely going to be hard to keep up this resilience that we’ve acquired and keeping up our courage to stand up against what we are for and to stay strong through it all and through the judgments of the people who are going against what we are trying to do,” Ameer admitted.

“This time it will be different,” Barrow promised. “We realize now that the politicians in office will not initiate the change by themselves, and the responsibility has fallen upon us, the students to take action.”

“We’re students. We’re juggling our personal lives, AP classes, homework, and we’re also trying to keep our peers from being killed,” said 14-year-old Julize Diaz from Blake High School, the third member of the group. “So, of course, there’s going to be some bumps on the road.”

The three students, like many in the public education world, said they were vehemently opposed to arming schoolteachers, the most controversial piece of the bills moving through the Legislature. Governor Scott is opposed to that requirement, but it’s uncertain if he would veto a school safety package that includes that item.

The reality on the ground in Florida schools has changed in the wake of Parkland. Barrow said that teachers in all his classes now lock the door when instruction begins.

When asked if they learned much about civics in their classes, Ameer, daughter of St. Petersburg union activist Maria Jose Chapa, said history books only give the “sugar-coated version” of what happened in the U.S.

“I have to learn that on my own and definitely from my mother. She teaches me the real history of America,” Ameer said.

Unlike some venues, where discussions about gun control can get heated, the mostly liberal crowd at Cafe Con Tampa (which included Democratic legislative candidates Bob Buesing and Debra Bellanti and Hillsborough County Commission candidate Kimberly Overman) rarely disagreed with the sentiments from the speakers, starting with many in the audience giving them a standing ovation when the discussion began.

The one time the students were challenged came from a question from New Tampa Republican Jim Davison, an unsuccessful 2016 City Council candidate.

Alluding to measures in the Legislature that would raise the age of purchasing guns from 18 to 21 in Florida (a proposal vehemently opposed by the NRA and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam),

Davison, a self-described baby boomer, said he came from the generation that fought for 18-year-olds to get the ability to vote, drink, smoke and other rights as an adult.

Why should someone who gets trained to be a killer in the military, comes back home at 20 and is denied the chance to buy a rifle, Davison asked.

Diaz replied that the soldier’s job was to kill people when fighting overseas, but when they return home, there was no need for a gun.

Ameer said many soldiers return home with Post Stress Traumatic Disorder, so it would be foolhardy to give them guns.

Barrow believed people should be able to own a handgun, but not assault rifles (Davison agreed).

Tampa mayoral candidate Topher Morrison asked the trio if they were now inspired to get involved in politics when they get older.

Ameer replied that her current activism is just the start of a political career.

Diaz wants to be a journalist; Barrow intends to enter the Naval Academy.

Lawmakers weigh trauma center money after shootings

In a move sparking opposition from some Republicans, Florida senators are considering a proposal to use money collected from gun owners seeking concealed-weapons licenses to pay medical costs for victims of mass shootings.

The Senate has included the proposal in a major school-safety and gun-regulation measure drawn up in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. The push to steer money to trauma centers came from Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon, a Miami Gardens Democrat.

Gino Santorio, Broward Health executive vice president and chief operating officer, applauded the proposal.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragedy in our community and appreciate the state’s support in times like these,” he said in a statement to the News Service of Florida.

Seventeen patients were treated at the health system’s hospitals following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The system also treated 54 patients following the January 2017 shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport where five people were killed.

But Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican running for governor this year, blasted the idea of using concealed-weapons license money for trauma centers. Putnam oversees the department that is charged with issuing concealed-weapons licenses.

“I oppose taxing law-abiding concealed weapon licenses for atrocities carried out by criminals,” Putnam said in a prepared statement. “If anyone should be taxed for those heinous acts, it should be criminals. The monster who murdered 17 people in Parkland wasn’t even eligible to have a concealed weapon license.”

The proposal also doesn’t seem to have support from House leaders, who have not included trauma funding in their bill dealing with guns and school safety.

Under Braynon’s proposal, $10 million in concealed-weapons license fees would be shifted to the Attorney General’s Office. Trauma centers would apply for reimbursements, which would be based on a fee schedule. Reimbursement would have to be accepted as payment in full, and trauma centers could not bill the victims.

House budget chief Carlos Trujillo, a Miami Republican, said he was sympathetic to the victims but said the proposal didn’t make sense.

“I can understand for maybe the indigent,” Trujillo said. “But I think a lot of variables need to be considered,” such as patients’ insurance coverage and whether hospitals are part of public health systems.

If a victim is covered by a commercial insurance plan, the carrier is likely to reimburse the hospitals more than the state ever would, Trujillo said. Moreover, even if the insurance was “subsidized,” there still is some type of insurance coverage a carrier is obliged to pay, he said.

“I think there’s a lot more going on than just saying we are going to give them (trauma centers) money just because of mass casualties,” Trujillo said. “We’re 100 percent sympathetic with the victims, and they shouldn’t be charged co-pays. And we should help them as much as we can. But how is that different than any other traumatic event? These are trauma centers. So how is that different than the lady who got hit by the drunk driver?”

This isn’t the first time the Legislature has been asked to provide funding to hospitals that treat patients from mass shootings like the one at the Parkland high school.

A similar request was made during the 2017 Session by two Republican lawmakers. But the idea never gained momentum and wasn’t part of budget discussions. The money would have been available to any trauma center or emergency department with a graduate medical education program that treated victims of mass casualties or disease outbreaks.

Rep. Rene Plasencia, an Orlando Republican, noted in a budget request that there was “overwhelming support in communities where trauma centers responded to mass casualty incidents — in particular in Orlando when Orlando Health’s Level I trauma center so effectively managed the Pulse mass casualty incident.”

Orlando Health’s Orlando Regional Medical Center treated 35 patients at its trauma center in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. Orlando Health billed for $5 million in health-care services that weren’t reimbursed, most of it stemming from the trauma center, said Kena Lewis, Orlando Health director of public affairs.

David Strong, President and CEO of Orlando Health, said he appreciates Braynon’s efforts.

“As the only Level One Trauma Center in Central Florida, we understand the mental, emotional and financial toll these horrific tragedies have on a community,” Strong said in an emailed statement. “A fund like the one proposed will provide some level of certainty and relief for healthcare organizations who are charged with providing life-saving care to these victims.”

Ron DeSantis calls Parkland massacre a failure of FBI, sheriff; denounces state gun proposals

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis on Thursday denounced Florida Legislature efforts to tighten gun restrictions and said the mass shooting two weeks ago at the Parkland high school should be seen as “a catastrophic failure” by the Broward County sheriff and the FBI.

DeSantis, a congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, has made similar comments in television appearances on Fox News in the past two weeks, but otherwise has been largely silent within Florida about his response to the massacre, drawing heat from other gubernatorial candidates, particularly Democrats. On Thursday he broke that, taking a hard line against any gun measures, and condemning those being considered now in the Florida Legislature.

He also called for the resignation of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for not having responded to numerous reports, prior to the Feb. 14 mass shooting, that suggested Nikolas Cruz was dangerous; and for the firing of anyone in the FBI who might have failed to pick up in advance on the shooter’s intentions.

And while DeSantis called on the Florida Legislature to back off proposed gun restrictions, presumably such as one to raise the minimum age for firearms purchases to 21, he was not specific in his statement.

DeSantis said he supported much in Gov. Rick Scott‘s proposed school safety package to “harden schools” and also supports one idea Scott rejected: arming teachers. He also said the state should enlist the help of veterans and law enforcement officers to help protect schools.

DeSantis faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of Bartow in the contest for the Aug. 28 Florida primary nomination to run for Governor. The leading Democrats are former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Winter Park developer Chris King, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, DeSantis contended, was the result of law enforcement failures and mental illness, and should be addressed as such.

“Given that the issues of bureaucratic incompetence, school safety and mental health demand immediate attention, I’m disappointed that the Florida Legislature is rushing to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens,” DeSantis said in his statement.

“When dealing with a right that is specifically enumerated in the Constitution, blanket restrictions that diminish individual rights are suspect. Better to focus on denying firearms to dangerous individuals, which avoids infringing on constitutional rights and is also more likely to be effective. The goal should be to keep our students safe, bring accountability to the officials and institutions that failed, and protect the rights of Floridians,” DeSantis continued.

Joe Henderson: Maybe Senate should have asked Adam Putnam first

Say this for Adam Putnam: he knows how to get attention.

He put out a terse news release Wednesday, ripping a state Senate proposal to use $10 million from the concealed weapons license fee to reimburse trauma centers for costs related to the Parkland murders.

It was kind of a “get off my lawn” moment for the normally affable Agriculture Commissioner, who also is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

“I oppose taxing law-abiding concealed weapon licensees for atrocities carried out by criminals. If anyone should be taxed for those heinous acts, it should be criminals,” the release read.

“The monster who murdered 17 people in Parkland wasn’t even eligible to have a concealed weapon license.”

Putnam’s objection about taxpayers is a bit of a reach, starting with the fact that law-abiding citizens he referred to aren’t being taxed. They voluntarily paid a fee for the right to carry a concealed weapon.

And while we all agree what happened in Parkland qualifies as an atrocity, it’s not like the reimbursement would be going to some wild-eyed anti-gun lobby. It would be going to help cover costs of treating victims of the aforementioned atrocity.

It is true, though, that the confessed shooter in Parkland isn’t old enough to have the license. In Florida, the minimum age is 21 for the permit. He was old enough to legally purchase the AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the attack, but I digress.

The point is, the horror unleashed that day – 17 dead, 14 wounded – pushed local hospitals to the limit. That’s what led Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens to propose the reimbursement fund, which would be administered by Attorney General’s office.

Senate President Joe Negron supported the idea, and SB 1876 was born. It passed an appropriations committee vote 17-3.

On the surface, using a portion of that gun fee in this way seemed reasonable. First-time Florida applicants pay $97 for the permit, which includes $55 for fingerprinting. Renewals cost $45.

It is good for seven years.

However, Jennifer Meale, communications director for the agriculture department, said in an email, “The primary purpose of the licensing fees is to mange and operate the concealed weapon license program. All application and renewal fees are dedicated to the licensing trust fund.”

Translation: That money already has a purpose.

In fairness, the right thing to do for those pushing for this bill would have been to check with Putnam before going public.

This sounds like the Agriculture Commissioner is telling the Senate to keep its mitts out of his money pot without talking to him first, no matter how well-meaning the proposal might be.

He has a point.

Chris King releases video ad on Parkland, Pulse, seeking ‘transformation’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King has released a new online campaign video declaring that the massacres in Pulse and Parkland demand a transformation of Florida politics, stressing his commitments to banning assault weapons, pushing for universal background checks, and expanding Medicaid.

The 90-second video “This is the Year” includes footage of vigils held for the mass shootings and King giving a speech in which he talks about attending the vigils, and believes that the last two weeks must spark a transformation. The ad is being targeted to Democratic voters on Facebook across the state.

“The next Governor of the State of Florida in my view has to be committed to transformation when it comes to gun safety,” King says. “So let me make it very clear to you what this governor would do: I would not take money from the NRA. I would work hard to pass an assault weapons ban, as I said for my very first speech as (a candidate for) governor. I would stand up for universal background checks. I would work to pass Medicaid expansion because there is no bigger idea for caring for the needs of the mentally ill in this state.”

King is competing with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine for the Democratic nomination. The leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Hands off concealed carry money, Adam Putnam says

An angry Adam Putnam lashed out at lawmakers Wednesday for planning to raid a state account funded by fees from concealed weapon licenses.

As Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Putnam is in charge of issuing such permits.

A proposal (SB 7026) in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would take 10 percent of the Division of Licensing Trust Fund to reimburse “trauma centers for documented medical costs of treating victims of mass shootings.”

“I oppose taxing law-abiding concealed weapon licensees for atrocities carried out by criminals,” Putnam said in a statement. “If anyone should be taxed for those heinous acts, it should be criminals.

“The monster who murdered 17 people in Parkland wasn’t even eligible to have a concealed weapon license,” added Putnam, also a Republican candidate for governor.

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