Bill Nelson Archives - Page 4 of 37 - Florida Politics

Bill Nelson talks offshore oil drilling ban during Southwest Florida stop

Sen. Bill Nelson vowed to fight off threats to drill in the waters off Florida’s west coast, telling Southwest Florida officials he’ll do whatever he can to protect the coastal communities.

“Increasingly we have threats to drill in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida, and it’s getting to the point that I have to keep beating back these attempts,” said Nelson during a meeting in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

In 2006, Nelson and then-Sen. Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican, passed legislation to ban oil drilling off much of the Sunshine State’s Gulf Coast through 2022. The no-drilling zone, according to Nelson’s office, extends 125 miles off much of the Florida Gulf Coast, and as far as 235 miles at some points, to protect military training areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Nelson filed legislation in January that would extend the ban another five years, from 2022 to 2027.

While President Donald Trump’s administration has announced they were implementing the same five-year oil and gas leasing plan as President Barack Obama’s administration, Nelson said there are concerns the 2006 law could be overturned.

“What I find is one of the newer senators from Louisiana keeps filing bills that do all kinds of things, very subtle like the proverbial camel getting its nose under the tent.” said Nelson. “That’s what we’ve had to fight off over and over. The good news is almost all, in a bipartisan way, of the congressional delegation wants to keep oil drilling off of the coast of Florida. The Atlantic is another matter … but we have that kind of unity, in the Atlantic as well.”

In March, Nelson and several members of the Florida congressional delegation — including Republicans Vern Buchanan, Francis Rooney, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Democrats Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, and Darren Soto — sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke urging him to keep the eastern Gulf off limits for oil drilling.

“Drilling in this area threatens Florida’s multi-billion-dollar, tourism-driven economy and is incompatible with the military training and weapons testing that occurs there,” read the letter.

Sanibel Island Mayor Kevin Ruane said his community could be negatively impacted if drilling were to occur off the coast, noting that it’s part of a trickle-down effect.

“No one I’m aware of is in favor of drilling,” he said.

Nelson said he plans to have a similar meeting with members of Florida’s east coast delegation in the coming weeks about off-shore drilling.

National Democrats using Google ads to highlight Rick Scott’s support for unpopular GOP health care plan

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced Tuesday they are launching a six-figure digital buy of Google search advertisements highlighting Florida Governor Rick Scott’s support for the American Health Care Act, the GOP health care plan that proved so unpopular with the public that House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the measure.

The DSCC says the ads will reach Florida voters across the state who are searching for information about Scott’s record on healthcare. The ads direct individuals to a Florida specific page on the DSCC’s newly expanded healthcare website — which now features video of Scott praising the Republican plan  as well as resources for voters to learn and share how the GOP’s Plan would hurt middle class families in their state. The ads are part of a six-figure digital buy.

“There is nowhere Gov. Scott can travel across the state to escape his support for a toxic Plan that makes older Floridians pay five times more for care, strips coverage from millions and raises costs for middle class families — all to give another tax break to big insurance companies,” said David Bergstein of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “The GOP’s Plan jeopardizes coverage for pre-existing conditions and makes working people pay more for less — and there will be nowhere Scott can hide from his support for this reckless agenda. If Scott decides he actually wants to run for anything besides dog-catcher after his Party’s humiliating healthcare defeat he’ll see these clips again.”

Scott is considered a likely candidate to run against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

The DSCC digital ads are running at the same time that the National Republican Congressional Committee launched a series of digital billboard targeting five House Democrats over their support for the Affordable Care Act, including Orlando’s Stephanie Murphy.

 

Rick Scott’s approval rating ticks up to 57% in new poll

Gov. Rick Scott’s approval rating is ticking up, something that could prove critical as the Naples Republican ponders a 2018 U.S. Senate bid.

A new survey from Morning Consult showed Scott has a 57 percent approval rating. That’s up 8 points from similar rankings released in September, which showed Scott had a 49 percent approval rating.

Scott’s disapproval rating dropped to 36 percent in the most recent Morning Consult survey, while 7 percent of Floridians surveyed said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion. In the September survey, 42 percent of Floridians disapproved of Scott and 9 percent said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion.

The survey of 8,793 Florida voters was conducted from January to March. It was part of a nationwide survey that evaluated the job performance of the nation’s senators and governors.

The Morning Consult survey shows Scott with a higher approval rating than two recent surveys of Florida voters.

In March, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released a survey that showed Scott’s approval rating at 50 percent. When broken down by political party, the Florida Chamber poll found 76 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independents gave Scott good marks, while 77 percent of Democrats said they didn’t approve of the way he was doing his job.

A few weeks later, the Florida Hospital Association released a survey that showed Scott’s approval rating was at 45 percent, while his disapproval rating was at 41 percent.

Still, the Morning Consult survey could bode well for Scott, who is widely believed to be considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2018. According to the survey, Scott’s approval rating among Florida voters is slightly higher than Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

The survey found Nelson’s approval rating is 53 percent. That’s up ever-so-slightly from September rankings, which showed Nelson had a 52 percent approval rating.

Nelson’s disapproval rating is 26 percent; up 2 points from September when it clocked in at 24 percent. The survey found 21 percent either didn’t know who Nelson was or didn’t have an opinion of the state’s senior senator.

Several early polls have shown Nelson leading Scott in hypothetical 2018 match-ups. The Chamber poll showed Nelson leading Scott 48 percent to 42 percent; while the Florida Hospital Association poll showed a much closer race, with Nelson leading 46 percent to 44 percent.

According to the Morning Consult survey, Sen. Marco Rubio’s approval rating is at 52 percent, a 10-point increase from the September survey.

Citing rising poll numbers, Florida congressional Dems urge Rick Scott to expand Medicaid

When Congressional Republicans last month attempted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, they heard from several GOP governors, who warned them not to go ahead with a plan to cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid, saying it would have a deleterious effect on voters.

Now, with new polling indicating that Medicaid has never been more popular, Florida Congressional Democrats are finding the inspiration to ask Gov. Rick Scott to again consider expanding Medicaid.

“A number of states that had not previously expanded Medicaid are now considering expansion and we strongly urge you and the Florida Legislature to do so too,” begins the letter penned by Sen. Bill Nelson, and Congress members Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel, Fredericka Wilson, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto.

The letter comes on the same that a new poll conducted by the University of Miami shows that two-thirds of Floridians, or 67 percent, say they favor Medicaid expansion.

Infamously, Scott said in 2013 that he initially supported expanding Medicaid in Florida, but then quickly reversed course and every year since has steadfastly maintained his opposition, despite the business community rallying behind such a move.

In 2015, the Florida Senate approved a hybrid version of Medicaid expansion; the House overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.

State officials said that plan would have covered as many as 650,000 residents.

Here’s the text of the letter sent to Scott:

Dear Governor Scott:

A number of states that had not previously expanded Medicaid are now considering expansion and we strongly urge you and the Florida Legislature to do so too. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia already have expanded Medicaid to provide affordable health care to working families and students. Floridians should not be placed at a disadvantage compared to other states. Indeed, a survey published today by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation found that 67 percent of Floridians support moving forward with expansion to bring $66 billion in federal funding between the years of 2013-2022 to our state. Medicaid expansion will boost jobs and enable Florida to move to a more efficient health care delivery model. In fact, it is estimated that the state would have seen $8.9 billion in increased economic activity and more than 71,000 new jobs in 2016 alone. It not too late to chart a better course for the State of Florida.

Now that Speaker Ryan has declared, “[the Affordable Care Act] is the law of the land,” we should all be doing our part to expand coverage to the uninsured, improve the quality of health plans, and lower costs for everyone. Expanding eligibility to all Floridians with annual income below 138 percent of the federal poverty level–less than $30,000 per year for a family of three–is the fiscally-responsible thing to do not only for a huge number of Floridians, but also for consumers who use Healthcare.gov, for businesses who provide coverage to their employees, and for hospitals who are charged with providing care without regard to a patient’s coverage status. Insurance premiums for Americans who have private insurance are generally lower in states that have expanded Medicaid. Private insurance costs are higher in states that did not expand Medicaid because of costs of sick and uninsured are transferred to the private insurance pool according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Coverage is key, rather than costly and inefficient emergency room care and delayed treatment.

With years of Medicaid expansion already underway in other parts of the country, we have seen that other hard working Americans have benefited from improvements in health care quality and affordability through expansion. Medicaid expansion in Florida would provide over 800,000 of our fellow Floridians with access to primary care. Preventive services like screening for HIV, cancer, and heart disease will save lives, help keep our state’s residents healthier, and improve management of their chronic conditions. Providing access to Medicaid will also improve risk pools in the private market, a shift that has saved consumers in expansion states seven percent on their monthly premiums. Floridians deserve these benefits just like any other American.

Medicaid expansion also will reduce the unpaid medical bills owed to hospitals that put pressure on the state budget and our safety net hospitals funded with taxpayer dollars. Refusing to cover working Floridians through Medicaid expansion does not reduce our state’s health care costs, it just passes them on through rising premiums and tax hikes. With a third of our state’s resources already devoted to health care, the influx of $50 billion in federal funding would safeguard services from the draconian cuts currently under consideration by the state legislature. Medicaid expansion would help the state avoid the rising costs brought by Zika, the opioid crisis and mental health needs.

Throughout your time as the chief executive of our state, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has shown a willingness to work with you to find a path forward that will expand coverage to hard-working, able-bodied adults in our state. States with conservative governors around the nation have arrived at solutions that expanded Medicaid while upholding their conservative principles. If you miss this opportunity, you will chart a fiscally-irresponsible path that will cost our state billions, cost our state jobs and sacrifice the health and well-being of all Floridians.

Thankfully, Republicans in Congress abandoned their recent proposal to rip coverage away from millions of Americans including children, the disabled, and our neighbors with Alzheimer’s in skilled nursing. Like most Floridians, we realized that this was not an honest attempt at improving health care in America. Rather than continuing political games over the Affordable Care Act, we ask that you move to develop a plan for Medicaid expansion in our state to benefit the health, financial security, and well-being of all Floridians.

Sincerely,

###

 

Bill Nelson raises over $2 million in first quarter

Florida’s sole statewide elected Democrat is off to a strong start in his bid for re-election, according to first-quarter fundraising numbers released today by his campaign.

 U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, up for re-election in 2018, will be reporting more than $2 million raised from more than 4,500 individual donors during the first three months of the year.

The $2 million-plus haul is on top of the nearly $1.8 million Nelson had in the bank before January 1, giving the state’s senior senator more than $3.6 million cash on hand.

The numbers released today come on the heels of several recent polls showing Nelson with a solid lead over his likely GOP challenger.

A poll released last month by the Florida Chamber of Commerce showed Nelson leading Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a hypothetical 2018 matchup by 6 points, 48 — 42.

Another poll released late February by the University of North Florida showed Nelson leading Scott by the same 6-point margin, 44 — 38.

Candidates’ first-quarter fundraising reports are due April 15.

Bill Nelson seeks to extend prescription drug subsidies to Puerto Rico seniors

Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is seeking to extend Medicare low-income prescription drug subsidies to resident of Puerto Rico, with a bill he filed today.

Nelson’s office estimated that the bill could help an estimated 400,000 low-income seniors in Puerto Rico afford the cost of prescription drugs.

While low-income seniors living in the continental U.S. may be eligible for the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy program, seniors living in a U.S. territory, such as Puerto Rico, are not.

A separate program was established in 2003 to allow for low-income seniors’ subsidies for prescription drugs but the program requires the government of Puerto Rico to match about half the subsidy and the economically-strapped government is unable to anymore, Nelson’s office said in a press release.

“This is inherently unfair,” Nelson said in the release. “This bill will help seniors living in Puerto better afford the cost of their prescription drugs by simply putting them on the same footing as seniors living in the states.”

Last month Puerto Rico warned the U.S. of a looming health care crisis if it is unable to solve its current fiscal crisis.

Nelson’s measure, which has yet to be assigned a bill number,  will head to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

Florida Poll: Bill Nelson 52%, Rick Scott 37% in hypothetical 2018 U.S. Senate race

Sen. Bill Nelson holds a significant lead over Gov. Rick Scott in a hypothetical 2018 matchup, according to a new poll.

The survey — conducted March 28 through March 29 by Gravis Marketing for The Orlando Political Observer — found Nelson leads Scott, 52 percent to 37 percent. According to the poll, 12 percent of respondents said they were unsure who they would pick.

The poll of 1,453 registered voters, which was conducted using automated phone calls and web responses of cellphone users, has a margin of error of 2.6 percent.

That 15-point margin represents the largest spread Nelson has enjoyed in early polling. A recent Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted on behalf of the Florida Hospital Association showed a much closer race between the two men come 2018, with Nelson at 46 percent to Scott’s 44 percent.

Meanwhile, a poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce released in March showed Nelson had a 6-point lead over Scott, 48 percent to 42 percent.

That margin was similar to one predicted in a UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory survey released earlier in the month that found Nelson would take 44 percent to Scott’s 38 percent. A Mason-Dixon survey showed Nelson with a 5-point edge over Scott, 46 percent to 41 percent.

Scott, who was elected in 2010, can’t run for governor in 2018 because of term-limits. He’s been boosting his national profile in recent months, and is widely believed to be considering a U.S. Senate run.

Emails continue to hound Andrew Gillum; fundraising invitation among newest trove

A slowly simmering email kerfuffle is turning into a close-to-uncomfortably hot scandal for Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who announced his candidacy for Florida governor in 2018 last month.

Another email has been unearthed revealing he used state equipment as a means for campaigning, which is an ethics violation in the state of Florida.

The email in question invited a host of people to a Florida Democratic fundraiser, according to The Tallahassee Democrat.

“Last month, the city of Tallahassee turned over 60 emails sent through software purchased by NGP Van, a company that provides technology to Democratic campaigns and causes,” the newspaper reported. “Several of the emails had political messages, including one inviting people to a 2016 campaign appearance by then-Vice President Joe Biden in Tallahassee.”

Now another 50 emails have been turned over to the newspaper after a records request, the newspaper reported.

“One, however, was an invitation to the FDP fundraiser at the home of then-Party Chair Allison Tant,” according to the Democrat. “U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was the special guest; the event was chaired by Gillum, then vice-chair of the state party. Tickets were available at various sponsorship levels, from $50 up to $1,000.”

The Democrat reported $6,850 had been spent by the mayor’s office on the NGP Van software and included $4,965 from the city’s general fund and $1,875 in leftover campaign money that the mayor rolled into his office account.
He was forced to publicly capitulate, apologizing on the same day he filed to run for Florida governor. Gillum has stated previously the emails were his fault.

A criminal investigation was started after a man in Jefferson County sent a complaint to Leon County State Attorney Jack Campbell, who notified the sheriff.

“The investigation is progressing and we are continuing to obtain records,” Lt. Grady Jordan, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday, according to the Democrat.

The Tallahassee mayor has stated he is fully willing to cooperate with the investigation.

The latest emails brought forth fresh rebukes from conservatives, the Democrat reported.

“This is another egregious breach of the public trust,” Leon County Republican Party Chair Evan Power said. “When Mayor Gillum apologized for his other inappropriate emails he continued to hide these records from his constituents.”

The Republican Governor’s Association added their voice to the mix:  “Gillum has clearly demonstrated he cannot be trusted to tell the truth or follow the law.”

Andy Janecek, Leon County DEC chair, added: “Republicans continue to do and say anything to distract from the disastrous failures of the Trump presidency. The city has been reimbursed and it’s time for Evan Power to get a new hobby. Professional trolling won’t help put anyone back to work or make sure every Floridian has access to health care.”

Bill Nelson to vote no on Neil Gorsuch

Bill Nelson ended any suspense there may have been regarding his views of President Donald Trump‘s first Supreme Court nominee.

Florida’s Democratic senator intends to vote no on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch.

Nelson also announced Monday he also would support a Democratic filibuster, by voting against likely Republican efforts to invoke cloture to prevent a filibuster. If a Republican-led closure procedure wins, Nelson said he will vote no on Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Nelson cited Gorsuch’s own testimony and record, making no references to Democrats’ beef that Republicans refused all last year to hold hearings on the nomination of then-President Barack Obama‘s last Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland‎. Gorsuch now is up for that same seat.

“Deciding whether to confirm a president’s nominee for the highest court in the land is a responsibility I take very seriously,” Nelson stated in a news release issued Monday afternoon by his office. “Over the past few weeks, I have met with Judge Gorsuch, listened to the Judiciary Committee’s hearings and reviewed his record with an open mind.

“I have real concerns with his thinking on protecting the right to vote and allowing unlimited money in political campaigns. In addition, the judge has consistently sided with corporations over employees, as in the case of a freezing truck driver who, contrary to common sense, Judge Gorsuch would have allowed to be fired for abandoning his disabled rig during extreme weather conditions,” Nelson added.

 

Bill Nelson, bipartisan Florida Congress members urge drilling ban in Gulf

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has pulled together a bipartisan group of Florida congressmen to sign a letter urging the administration of President Donald Trump to not permit off-shore oil near Florida’s Gulf Coast.

In a letter sent Friday to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Nelson and 16 members of Florida’s congressional delegation urged the administration to maintain the current moratorium on offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for at least the next five years.

Joining Nelson were Republican U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, Brian Mast, Francis Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Daniel Webster; and Democratic U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.

Earlier this month, the administration announced it intended to keep the moratorium in place until at least 2022, but recent reports suggest that the administration may be considering a new plan, Nelson’s office reported in a news release Friday morning.

“It’s our understanding that your department may be considering a new Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022,” the lawmakers wrote. “If you do choose to draft a new plan, we strongly urge you to keep the eastern Gulf off limits.

“Drilling in this area threatens Florida’s multi-billion-dollar, tourism-driven economy and is incompatible with the military training and weapons testing that occurs there,” the letter continues.

In 2006, Congress passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act, which created a moratorium on drilling in most of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The letter notes the Deepwater Horizon explosion seven years ago that killed 11 men, damaged the marine life ecosystem, and soiled an entire tourism season for Gulf states.

“This tragedy was a painful reminder that Florida’s beaches and economy are at risk even when oil rigs are hundreds of miles away from its shores,” the later states.

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