Dana Young Archives - Page 3 of 33 - Florida Politics

Senate panel says texting ban isn’t enough, but at least it’s something

The Senate Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Tuesday approved a bill by Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry that would institute a statewide ban on texting while driving, but not before they and members of the public labelled it as merely the first step toward a hands-free Florida.

SB 90 and its House counterpart, HB 121, were a focus at the Capitol today, with countless families who had lost loved ones heading to Tallahassee to make it known that the law on the books is too limp-wristed and that its time to change it.

In addition to SB 90 going before its first committee, the Florida Sheriffs Association, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and texting ban advocacy group FL DNT TXT N DRV Coalition and were among the groups to issue statements today backing a texting ban.

Lawmakers in 2013 considered it a win after they passed a law to make texting while driving a “secondary offense” that could be tacked on to other moving violations such as speeding, but the measure put forward this year would allow police to pull over texting motorists even if they aren’t breaking another rule of the road.

All Senators on the committee agreed in principle, though there was no clear consensus on just how far the state should go with a ban.

“We all know texting is bad – it’s bad – there’s no way around it,” said committee chair and Jacksonville Republican Sen. Aaron Bean. “It’s just how do we get it done, that’s the question.”

For Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young and Forth Worth Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens, as well as many of 31 speakers who showed up to support the bill, the way forward is a full-on phone ban, which they and many advocacy groups say would save the most lives and create the least amount of work for law enforcement officers.

“What about sending an email, would that be okay? What about looking through a spotify playlist to choose a song? Would that be okay?” Young asked Perry, along with whether the bill covered Norelco shavers, paperback novels and many other sources of distraction.

“Using a battery-powered curling iron – you ever seen that? I have,” Young said.

Perry said while other activities take eyes off the road, that if he and Young stepped outside they could likely spot two or three texters among the first 10 cars driving by, but might never see a reader or Netflix-watcher behind the wheel.

Clemens said research he looked over shows a simple texting ban might be a wash when it comes to saving lives, but said that hands-free states have seen a drastic reduction in not only fatalities, but injuries and accidents.

The Senate Democratic Leader also wanted the bill to get along with a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the warrantless search and seizure of the digital contents of a cell phone is unconstitutional.

Making the bill jibe with that decision is required if police need to prove someone is texting, Clemens said, while under a hands-free law it wouldn’t matter what a motorist was doing on their phone.

“This is decided law. You can’t look at someone’s cell phone without a warrant or without their permission,” he said of the Riley v. California decision, later adding that
“the bill as its structured without the amendment makes it nearly impossible for an officer to tell whether you’re texting, or looking at your iTunes playlist.”

Perry again offered to watch passing cars with his Senate colleague.

“You and I could go out there and be able to tell the difference between someone texting or doing something different with multiple keystrokes,” he said.

Clemens tried to force those changes with a pair of late-filed amendments, both of which Perry deemed “unfriendly,” and while the hands-free strike-all failed, Clemens’ fix to require police inform drivers that they have a right to decline a phone search passed 5-3.

When public comment opened for the amended bill, most of the lobby corps backing the ban deferred to give the flood of mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and cousins in the room time to share their stories of how distracted driving had ended the lives of loved ones.

The first of the speakers were Key Biscayne couple Rick and Debbie Wanninkhof, who made the nearly 500-mile drive to Tallahassee to tell the story of their son, Patrick, who was killed by a distracted driver at age 25.

“As you can see behind us, we are not alone,” said Rick Wanninkhof after recounting the death of his son. “As lawmakers we ask you to please protect everyone to the best of your ability. SB 90 will save lives.”

“If we saved just one life, wouldn’t it be worth it?” asked Debbie Wanninkhof, holding in her tears until her speaking time was up.

She was one of the few mothers who could. Young had to step away from her desk to comfort the next mother with a tissue and a shoulder as she recounted the death of her son, who had had been a classmate of Young’s child and was a service member stationed aboard the USS Florida with eyes on an officer commission in the U.S. Navy before distracted driving cut his life short.

In the end, lawmakers passed the bill with the only no-vote on the panel coming from Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, who didn’t disagree that a ban should be made law, but said Perry’s bill didn’t go far enough toward solving the problem.

And Perry said that while his bill isn’t perfect, it’s a starting point.

“My goal is that that crowd will not get bigger,” he said turning to look at the parents in the room. “Our goal is to make that crowd smaller.”

‘Do not call’ Dana Young with unwanted sales voicemails

Dana Young wants to hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign for automated sales voicemails. 

The Republican state senator from Tampa has filed a bill to define such voicemails as “telephonic sales calls” that Floridians could ask not to receive.

Her legislation (SB 568) would include voicemails “made by or on behalf of (a) seller whose goods or services are being offered, or (by) a charitable organization for which a charitable contribution is being solicited.”

The problem has been “ever clever telemarketers” who keep trying to create loopholes, Young said.

For example, she referred to a request by one marketing company for the Federal Communications Commission to declare voicemails OK under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

“We know the federal government can take a lifetime to act, but in Florida, we can do this fairly nimbly,” Young said.

The state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services maintains the “Florida Do Not Call List” for residents “who do not wish to receive sales calls or texts.”

The list has “grown to include more than 1 million phone numbers since Commissioner Adam Putnam worked with the Legislature in 2012 to remove the fee to join,” his website says.

Young’s bill does not address “robocalls” by of for political candidates.

The FCC says, “Political campaign-related prerecorded voice or autodialed calls (including autodialed live calls, prerecorded voice messages, and text messages already) are … prohibited to cell phones, pagers, or other mobile devices without the called party’s prior express consent,” but are OK “when made to landline telephones, even without prior express consent.”

interim Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister

Chad Chronister boasts bipartisan backing in fundraiser invite

Chad Chronister is looking to shed the “interim” tag in front of his title as Hillsborough County Sheriff next year, and a peek at the host committee he’s wrangled for his Oct. 25 campaign kickoff shows his support is both far reaching and bipartisan.

Chronister has been with the office since 1992 and was a colonel before the retirement of longtime lawman David Gee earlier this year, which vaulted him into the leadership role. He filed for election to the office a day after he was sworn in as interim sheriff.

The run for sheriff is Chronister’s first campaign, though the invite for his upcoming fundraiser has more names than many seasoned politicians – it fills up nearly a whole page of legal size paper and includes well over 200 names.

Among his supporters are both sides of the courtroom in State Attorney Andrew Warren and Hillsborough County Public Defender Julie Holt.

Chronister, a Republican, also has politicians from both sides of the political spectrum flocking to support his fledgling campaign.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, and former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, the current favorite to succeed him, also made the list alongside House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Sens. Dana Young and Tom Lee as well as County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, all Republicans.

The throng of supporters will gather at The Italian Club at 1731 E 7th Ave. in Ybor City to get the sitting sheriff’s campaign off the ground. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs for two hours.

So far, Chronister’s only competition is no-party candidate Juan Rivera. The election will be held in November 2018.

The full invitation is below.

Dana Young will try for fracking ban again

Democrats and Republicans from both sides of the Capitol rotunda came together Tuesday to back Sen. Dana Young‘s latest try to ban fracking in Florida.

Also known as hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique involves shooting water and chemicals deep underground, breaking up rock to get at oil and natural gas that’s unreachable by conventional drilling.  

“Advocates insist it is a safe and economical source of clean energy,” the LiveScience website explains. “Critics, however, claim fracking can destroy drinking water supplies, pollute the air and contribute to the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.”

In Florida, the process “makes no sense,” said Young, a Tampa Republican, at a Tuesday press conference. This is the second year she’s run a fracking ban bill (SB 462).

“It puts our drinking water supply, and everything we build our economy on, at risk,” she said. “I filed this bill for my children, and for all future generations of Floridians.”

But an outright ban likely will face opposition in the House. Last year, Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues said that a scientific study should first be required, adding it would be “foolish” to ban fracking without hard evidence.

But Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican, said “we already have data that shows problems in other areas of the country” where fracking has been performed.

“We should put science first,” Perry said. “If science comes back later and says there’s a safe way to do it, that’d be different … We need to stop this.”

Along with Perry, Young was joined by Rep. Kathleen Peters, a South Pasadena Republican who filed an identical House companion, as well as Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat; Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat; Sen. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat; and Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, a Miami-Dade Democrat.

Young’s bill has not yet been referred to committees.

Tampa Bay lawmakers file bills that would ban fracking

A pair of Tampa Bay Republicans filed bills in the House and Senate over the past week that would slap Florida with a full-on fracking ban come.

Fracking, shorthand for hydraulic fracturing, is a method of natural gas extraction that sees drillers inject a concoction of water and various chemicals into fault lines deep underground and at high pressure to force fossil fuels to the surface for collection.

Treasure Island state Rep. Kathleen Peters filed the House version, HB 237, last week, and Tampa state Sen. Dana Young followed it up with a Senate companion, SB 462, on Monday, the first day of interim committee weeks before the 2018 Legislative Session kicks off in January.

Their bills would prohibit all forms of “advanced well stimulation treatments,” meaning no high-pressure injections aimed at cracking the bedrock in search of black gold. Acid fracking – similar to hydraulic fracturing, with chemicals subbed in for water pressure to break through the rocks – is also expressly banned in the bills.

Non-fracking wells can carry on as usual, even if cleaning and maintenance requires operators to up the water pressure or use chemicals to restore ground permeability. So long as the pressure or pH doesn’t put a crack in the bedrock, it won’t be affected.

This isn’t Young’s or Peters’ first rodeo with fracking bills, which has become one of the major issues dividing Republican lawmakers the past few years.

Some lawmakers, including Republican Reps. Mike Miller and Ray Rodrigues, say a ban would be “foolish” before a scientific study on how fracking could affect the Sunshine state, while others say they’ve seen enough from the states that embraced fracking – or heard enough from their constituents – and want the ban on the books post-haste.

Young fought for the ban in the spring, but the measure sputtered out in the middle of the 2017 Legislative Session mainly due to the study-first camp.

Young was on the pro-study train in the 2016 Legislative Session when she was in the House, but in 2017 was trying to make good on a promise she made to voters during her campaign against Bob Buesing last fall.

Peters also backed the study bill, sponsored by former Naples Republican Sen. Garett Richter, and got pawed at by her 2016 opponent as well.

“The only bill that was presented to any legislator to stop fracking in Florida was that bill,” Peters said at the time. ”So in my opinion, anyone who opposes that bill, then supports what happened and now anyone can come into this state and do fracking. Anyone who voted no was absolutely irresponsible, because we do not have a moratorium on it.”

While fracking has unlocked wells of energy leading to rock-bottom natural gas prices, it has also been implicated in ground and surface water contamination and is likely a direct cause of earthquakes, including the string of shakers that vaulted Oklahoma well past West Coast states in total number of earthquakes in the 2010s.

Pro-fracking groups rebut those claims, but the scientific community has been consistent in linking the drilling technique to environmental damage.

Anti-fracking groups say Florida’s aquifer and the soluble limestone foundation much of the peninsula rests on would make the state even more vulnerable to damage from fracking, especially compared to low-population states such as South Dakota.

Spencer, Chris

Personnel note: Chris Spencer heads to GrayRobinson

Chris Spencer, longtime aide to Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, is leaving the Legislature to become a lobbyist at the Tampa office of GrayRobinson, the law firm announced Monday.

“Spencer has nearly a decade of experience working with Florida’s legislative and executive branches,” a press release said. “Prior to joining GrayRobinson, he managed successful campaigns for multiple legislators, including Brandes and Sen. Dana Young,” a Tampa Republican.

“We are thrilled for Chris to join our Tampa office,” Tampa managing shareholder David L. Smith said. “He will be an asset to our Tampa-area clients in addition to supporting the Firm’s statewide lobbying practice.”

As chief legislative assistant to Brandes, he “directed all legislative priorities and focused on a wide range of policy and appropriations issues, including transportation, economic development, energy, insurance and financial regulation,” the release said.

Spencer, 29, also served as legislative assistant to state Rep. Clay Ingram, a Pensacola Republican.

“Chris comes to us with invaluable relationships inside the Capitol and around the state,” said GrayRobinson executive vice president and statewide chair of government affairs Dean Cannon, a former House Speaker. “His experience working with legislators, staff, campaign offices and grassroots organizations will be a great resource for our clients.”

Spencer will focus his lobbying efforts in policy and appropriations matters throughout the Tampa and Tallahassee markets. He received bachelor’s degrees in economics, political science and international affairs from Florida State University.

Ed Hooper nabs Mike Fasano endorsement for SD 16

Ed Hooper, in his bid to return to Tallahassee, picked up a major endorsement Wednesday from Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano.

Fasano, a former Republican state lawmaker, has been a longtime political force in West Pasco County. Hooper, who served in the House from 2006 to 2014, is running in Senate District 16, covering parts of Pinellas and Pasco counties.

“I know Ed Hooper to be an honest and thoughtful person who cared about how laws effect the people he represents,” Fasano said in a statement. “Hooper has my full support and endorsement for State Senate.”

Hooper seeks to succeed Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala in SD 16. Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, is term-limited from the Senate and now running for Florida governor.

Born in North Carolina, Hooper moved to Clearwater in 1972 and studied fire science and emergency medicine at St. Petersburg College. After 24 years with the Clearwater Fire Department, Hooper was elected to the Clearwater City Council and later served eight years in the Florida House, before retiring in 2014 due to term-limits.

Hooper also brings an extensive civic involvement, including stints on Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Pinellas, and the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee.

In endorsing Hooper, Fasano joins State Sens. Jack Latvala, Jeff Brandes and Dana Young, as well as Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco and former House Speaker Will Weatherford.

Jason Brodeur files ‘fantasy sports’ bill for 2018

Rep. Jason Brodeur has again filed legislation to exempt fantasy sports play from state gambling regulation.

The Sanford Republican filed his measure (HB 223) Tuesday. It comes less than a week after Sen. Dana Young filed her own fantasy sports bill (SB 374) for the 2018 Legislative Session. Brodeur had filed a similar bill last session.

Brodeur

His latest bill says fantasy contests are “not subject to regulation by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and not subject to” the state’s gambling laws.

Moreover, “all winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants,” the bill adds.

Fantasy sports fans have long argued their hobby – such as played on websites like FanDuel and DraftKings – is a game of skill, not of chance, and thus shouldn’t be considered gambling.

“The millions of Floridians who play fantasy games deserve to know that what they’re doing is not a crime,” Brodeur said in an interview earlier this year.

A proposed omnibus gambling bill failed this past session, getting caught up in a late-session meltdown over a renewed blackjack agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and connected measures that would have expanded gambling in the state.

Dana Young files ‘fantasy contests’ bill

Sen. Dana Young has again filed a bill to exempt fantasy sports play from regulation under the state’s gambling laws.

Young, a Tampa Republican, filed her measure (SB 374) Friday afternoon. She introduced similar legislation this past session.

The bill for the 2018 Legislative Session would prohibit a fantasy contest operator from offering “contests based on the performances of participants in collegiate, high school, or youth athletics.”

That was a concern of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), she said in a phone interview: “I thought it appropriate that it be in there, so we added it.”

Otherwise, Young said her language came from last session’s conference committee on a proposed omnibus gambling bill that failed by that session’s end.

A House bill last session also would have excepted fantasy contests from regulation as gambling. Around 3 million Floridians say they play some sort of fantasy sports.

In sum, “we’re just confirming that fantasy sports are not illegal,” she said. 

Session begins Jan. 8.

Will Weatherford endorses Ed Hooper for state Senate

Former House Speaker Will Weatherford is backing Ed Hooper for the state senate seat being vacated by Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala, who terms out in 2018.

“Ed Hooper was an important member of my leadership team when I was Speaker of the Florida House, I could always rely on him for good counsel,” Weatherford said, “I also relied on his ability to navigate the land mines of special interests in the Capitol to accomplish our conservative agenda. Ed Hooper will be an outstanding member of the Senate and that is why I endorse him.”

Weatherford joins Republican Sens. Jeff Brandes and Dana Young, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco in endorsing Hooper for the seat.

The Clearwater Republican spent eight years in the House representing District 67, which was taken over by Republican Rep. Chris Latvala in 2014.

Since exiting the Legislature, Hooper has been working as a consultant. Currently he is the only GOP candidate running for Senate District 16, which covers northwestern Pinellas and southwestern Pasco counties, including the communities of New Port Richey, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Oldsmar and Clearwater.

The only other candidate in the race is Democrat Bernie Fensterwald, who filed back in June. Through the end of July, Hooper had around $90,000 on hand in his campaign account compared to just $2,000 for Fensterwald.

SD 16 is a reliably Republican district. About 38 percent of the electorate are registered Republicans compared to a 35 percent share who are registered Democrats.

In 2016, Latvala was virtually unopposed for re-election and took over 99 percent of the vote against write-in candidate Katherine Perkins.

 

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