Gov. Rick Scott Archives - Page 5 of 61 - Florida Politics

Personnel note: Liz Dudek to Greenberg Traurig

liz-dudek_headshotLiz Dudek, who retired earlier this month as secretary of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, is joining the Greenberg Traurig law firm as its director of Healthcare Affairs.

“I am thrilled to be adding a well-respected health care professional like Liz to Greenberg Traurig’s team here in Tallahassee,” said Fred Baggett, managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Tallahassee office.

“Her extensive experience in the public sector will complement our existing practice as we continue to grow,” he added. “As a leader in the regulation of health care for many years, her distinctive knowledge and expertise are unsurpassed.”

Gov. Rick Scott first appointed Dudek secretary of AHCA — which has a roughly $20 billion yearly budget — in March 2011, according to the agency’s website. She was renominated by Scott for the job and again confirmed by the Senate this February.

Among other things, the agency administers the state’s Medicaid program and oversees licensing of Florida’s 45,000 health care facilities. She was first hired by the state Dec. 1, 1974, records show.

Dudek’s vast knowledge of the federal-state health care system made her a shoo-in for a lucrative consulting job. She is not subject to the state’s two-year ban on lobbying by former state agency employees because she was hired before July 2, 1989, according to state law.

She served in a succession of positions in the agency: bureau chief of Certificate of Need/Budget Review, bureau chief of Health Facility Compliance, assistant deputy secretary of Managed Care and Health Quality, and deputy secretary of the Division of Health Quality Assurance.

As secretary, she was paid $141,000, according to the state’s salary database.

“By joining Greenberg Traurig, I know I am joining a team that places integrity and professionalism above all else,” Dudek said in a statement.

“Given the firm’s integral role in a wide variety of key issues, I look forward to the opportunity to expand my career in new areas that will challenge me and provide growth opportunities,” she said. “I am pleased that in this new position, I will be able to nurture the relationships I have formed throughout my career and continue to help improve health care in Florida.”

Editor’s Note: This version corrects an earlier post that misstated Dudek’s coverage by a lobbying ban in state law.

Opening for state Supreme Court gets first application

Conservative appellate judge C. Alan Lawson has become the first applicant for the open seat on the Florida Supreme Court.

Jason Unger, the Tallahassee attorney who chairs the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, confirmed the name Tuesday night.


Lawson is now chief judge of the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott will make the pick, his first chance to select a member of the seven-member state Supreme Court that often splits 5-2 on matters of public policy.

Now, Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston are the court’s only reliable conservative votes.

The man Lawson seeks to replace, Justice James E.C. Perry, is the same person who beat him in 2009 for the high court job, itself created by the retirement of Justice Charles T. Wells.

Lawson was backed by “religious conservatives and the National Rifle Association,” wrote politics reporter William March in a February 2009 story for the now-defunct Tampa Tribune, while Perry was favored by “liberal groups and black leaders.”

The appointment created a quandary for then-Gov. Charlie Crist, March wrote, “pit(ting) conservatives in his own party (then Republican) against a minority community Crist is courting.” He eventually picked Perry, who joined the court the next month.

Lawson, born in Lakeland, graduated from Tallahassee Community College and later Clemson University with a degree in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, according to his online bio. He got his law degree from Florida State University in 1987.

He was in private practice for several years before becoming an assistant county attorney in Orange County and then a circuit judge in 2002.

Lawson also was a Florida Bar exam question writer and grader. He moved to the 5th District appellate bench in 2006.

In 2012, he was a member of a three-judge appeals panel that considered a custody battle between two women who were formerly in a relationship.

The majority said both women have parental rights, but Lawson wrote “a blistering dissent,” in which he said a child can have only one mother, according to the Associated Press.

The court shouldn’t recognize two mothers “unless we are also willing to invalidate laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, bigamy, polygamy, or adult incestuous relationships on the same basis,” Lawson said.

In a 4-3 opinion, the state Supreme Court later said the non-birth mother could seek shared custody.

Perry’s retirement is effective Dec. 30. His absence otherwise leaves Peggy A. Quince as the only African-American on the court.

The nominating commission is scheduled to interview finalists on Nov. 28 and submit a list to Scott of possible replacements by Dec. 13.


Who wants to be a state Supreme Court justice? No one — yet

The panel charged with helping to find the next Florida Supreme Court justice meets in two weeks to decide which applicants to interview.

One hitch: There aren’t any yet.

That’s probably because the applications are very involved, said Jason Unger, the Tallahassee attorney who chairs the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission.

And just like guests at a party, nobody wants to be the first to arrive, he added. Unger expects applications to start rolling in this week before the Nov. 11 deadline.

The panel will screen the applications and recommend six people for consideration to Gov. Rick Scott, who makes the pick.

The opening was created by the retirement of Justice James E.C. Perry. The 72-year-old announced his retirement on Sept. 12.

He stayed past the mandatory retirement age of 70 because of a provision allowing justices whose “70th birthday occurs in the second half of their six-year term (to) remain on the bench until the full term expires.”

It will be Scott’s first appointment to the state’s high court and an opportunity to add to its conservative minority of Charles Canady and Ricky Polston.

The progressive wing includes Perry, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, and Justices R. Fred LewisBarbara J. Pariente, and Peggy A. Quince.

Quince is the only other African-American justice on the seven-member court besides Perry.

The commission is scheduled to interview finalists on Nov. 28 and submit a list of possible replacements by Dec. 13.



Nearly 90 now have applied to Rick Scott for constitution review panel

Almost 90 people now have applied to Gov. Rick Scott for a seat on the panel that reviews the state’s constitution every 20 years.

According to a list the governor’s office released Monday morning, a few of the newest names interested in being on the Constitution Revision Commission are:

Bob McClure, president and CEO of the James Madison Institute, a conservative policy think tank based in Tallahassee.

Tena Pate, former chair of the Florida Commission on Offender Review, previously known as the Florida Parole Commission. Pate ran unsuccessfully for the nonpartisan Leon County supervisor of elections seat this year.

Belvin Perry, former chief judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit. He presided over the Casey Anthony trial in 2011. Perry now is an attorney with the Morgan & Morgan law firm.

The Florida Constitution allows for a “revision commission” to meet every two decades to “examine the constitution, hold public hearings and … file its proposal, if any, of a revision of this constitution or any part of it.”

As governor, Scott will choose 15 of the 37 commissioners, and he also selects its chairperson. That means the Naples Republican will indirectly influence the retooling of the state’s chief governing document for an entire generation.

In addition to Scott, the House speaker and Senate president each get nine picks. GOP state Rep. Richard Corcoran of Land O’ Lakes will be speaker in 2017 and state Sen. Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, will be president.

Republican Pam Bondi is automatically a member as attorney general, and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga gets three picks. He has already begun taking applications.

Under law, the next commission is scheduled to meet 30 days before the beginning of the Legislature’s 2017 regular session. Any changes it proposes would be in the form of constitutional amendments, which would have to be approved by 60 percent of voters on a statewide ballot.

Scott’s application is here. His “appointments will be made no later than March 6, 2017,” according to his office.

The full alphabetical list of applicants as released by the governor’s office is below:

  1. Andrade, Robert
  2. Avalon, Victoria
  3. Baade, David
  4. Barbee, Donald
  5. Belgard, Tildon
  6. Beltran, Michael
  7. Boggs, II, H.
  8. Boroughs, Paul
  9. Bronon, Charles
  10. Brown, Donald
  11. Browning, Kurt
  12. Brummer, Frederick
  13. Carlock, Margaret
  14. Clayton, Robert
  15. Crotty, Richard
  16. Cullen, Lisa
  17. Curtis III, Donald
  18. Dantzler, Rick
  19. Dawson, Warren
  20. Dillinger, Robert
  21. Duggan, Wyman
  22. Eslinger, Donald
  23. Feldman, Gregory
  24. Folmar, Hayley
  25. Foster, Brett
  26. Furst, Jr, William
  27. Gaetz, Matt
  28. Gillis, Laurence
  29. Goiran, Barbara
  30. Goldstein, Stuart
  31. Gosney, Steven
  32. Handin, Jason
  33. Harding, Nicholas
  34. Haynie, Susan
  35. Henderson II, Charles
  36. Heyman, Sally
  37. Jazil, Mohammad
  38. Jones, Michael
  39. Keiser, Belinda
  40. Kinch, Abby
  41. Kruppenbacher, Frank
  42. Little, Joseph
  43. Maier, Christopher
  44. Marsh, James
  45. Marstiller, Simone
  46. Mason III, Scott
  47. Matthews, Joseph
  48. Maymon, David
  49. McCabe, Bernie
  50. McClure, Bob
  51. Mellen III, Robert
  52. Miller, Park
  53. Millert, Wayne
  54. Monahan, Jr., Gerald
  55. Moore, Edwin
  56. Moriarty, Mark
  57. Nanian, Marjorie
  58. Nunn, Kenneth
  59. Pate, Tena
  60. Patterson Jr, Ralph “Pat”
  61. Perry, Belvin
  62. Primrose, Nicholas
  63. Puig, Diego
  64. Rainka, Michael
  65. Ramswell, Prebble
  66. Roberson, Kelly
  67. Robinson, IV, Grover
  68. Rosenblatt, Howard
  69. Runcie, Robert
  70. Schifino, William
  71. Simovitch, Audra
  72. Smiley, Judge Elijah
  73. Smith, Daniel
  74. Stelzl, Henry
  75. Svechin, Larisa
  76. Thomas, Mary
  77. Tuck, Andy
  78. Upthagrove, Brett
  79. VanValkenburgh, Jessica
  80. Walsh, Anthony
  81. Widerman, Scott
  82. Wigder, Marc
  83. Zilaitis, Frank
  84. Zoes, Caroline

Matt Gaetz joins applicants to Rick Scott for CRC position

The list of applicants to Gov. Rick Scott for a seat on the state’s Constitution Revision Commission continues to grow, now including conservative lawmaker Matt Gaetz.

The panel, which reviews the state’s constitution every two decades, is scheduled to convene 30 days before the beginning of the Legislature’s 2017 regular session on March 7.

As governor, Scott will choose 15 of the 37 commissioners and selects its chairperson. That means the Naples Republican will indirectly influence the retooling of the state’s chief governing document for an entire generation.

As of late Tuesday, there were 73 names on the list provided by the governor’s office. The newest applicants include:

— State Rep. Matt Gaetz. The lawyer and north Florida Republican trounced six opponents for the GOP nomination for the 1st Congressional District. He’s now considered a shoo-in for that highly conservative area.

Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of Community Relations and Student Advancement for Keiser University. She’s served on a bevy of boards, including Workforce Florida and the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges. Scott appointed her to the board of Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development agency.

Frank Kruppenbacher, an attorney with the statewide Morgan & Morgan law firm. Kruppenbacher also has served on a number of panels, including being appointed by then-Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio to the Florida Commission on Ethics. Scott reappointed Kruppenbacher to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which he now chairs.

Simone Marstiller, a retired judge of the 1st District Court of Appeal. The Liberian-born Marstiller’s long resume includes being a deputy chief of staff and secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation under Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mary Thomas, former general counsel of the Department of Elder Affairs under Scott. Thomas ran unsuccessfully this year for the GOP nomination for the 2nd Congressional District, losing to Panama City urological surgeon Neal Dunn.

The full list of applicants to Scott is below. The newest names are in bold:

Andrade, Robert

Avalon, Victoria

Baade, David

Barbee, Donald

Belgard, Tildon

Beltran, Michael

Bronon, Charles

Browning, Kurt

Brummer, Frederick

Carlock, Margaret

Clayton, Robert

Crotty, Richard

Cullen, Lisa

Dantzler, Rick

Dawson, Warren

Dillinger, Robert

Duggan, Wyman

Eslinger, Donald

Folmar, Hayley

Foster, Brett

Furst, Jr, William

Gaetz, Matt

Gillis, Laurence

Goiran, Barbara

Goldstein, Stuart

Gosney, Steven

Handin, Jason

Harding, Nicholas

Haynie, Susan

Heyman, Sally

Jazil, Mohammad

Jones, Michael

Keiser, Belinda

Kinch, Abby

Kruppenbacher, Frank

Little, Joseph

Maier, Christopher

Marsh, James

Marstiller, Simone

Mason III, Scott

Matthews, Joseph

Maymon, David

McCabe, Bernie

Mellen III, Robert

Millert, Wayne

Monahan, Jr., Gerald

Moore, Edwin

Moriarty, Mark

Nanian, Marjorie

Patterson Jr, Ralph “Pat”

Primrose, Nicholas

Puig, Diego

Rainka, Michael

Ramswell, Prebble

Roberson, Kelly

Robinson, IV, Grover

Rosenblatt, Howard

Runcie, Robert

Schifino, William

Simovitch, Audra

Smiley, Judge Elijah

Smith, Daniel

Stelzl, Henry

Svechin, Larisa

Thomas, Mary

Tuck, Andy

Upthagrove, Brett

VanValkenburgh, Jessica

Walsh, Anthony

Widerman, Scott

Wigder, Marc

Zilaitis, Frank

Zoes, Caroline

The Florida Constitution allows for a “revision commission” to meet every 20 years to “examine the constitution, hold public hearings and … file its proposal, if any, of a revision of this constitution or any part of it.”

In addition to Scott, the House speaker and Senate president each get nine picks. Assuming they win re-election in November, GOP state Rep. Richard Corcoran of Land O’ Lakes will be speaker in 2017 and state Sen. Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, will be president.

Republican Pam Bondi is automatically a member as attorney general, and Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga gets three picks.

Any changes the CRC proposes would be in the form of constitutional amendments, which would have to be approved by 60 percent of voters on a statewide ballot.

Scott’s application is here. His “appointments will be made no later than March 6, 2017,” his office has said.

GEO Group says it’s not interested in Fla. re-entry services

Private prison operator The GEO Group says it has “no plans” to provide prisoner reentry services in Florida.

Spokesman Pablo E. Paez responded Friday to a report this week on nonprofit groups saying the Department of Corrections was shutting them out of continuing to help inmates and probationers readjust to life “outside the walls.”

Bridges of America CEO Lori Costantino-Brown and other nonprofit heads held a press conference Thursday in Tallahassee.

Costantino-Brown was asked about GEO Group’s annual report, which mentions the company’s “commitment to be the world’s leading provider of offender rehabilitation and community re-entry programs,” and whether the company was influencing the state’s decision making.

Costantino-Brown said she had “no evidence of that,” but added “there has been a lot of speculation about their involvement.”

Paez says: Not us.

“The speculation that our company was in any way involved with this decision is 100 percent false,” he said in an email. “Our company does not currently provide reentry services in Florida and has no plans to do so.”

The Boca Raton-based company “greatly respects the Governor’s efforts to improve the ability of state-run institutions to help inmates re-enter society; investing in programs to break the cycle of recidivism is simply the right thing to do,” Paez said.

“We pride ourselves on our rehabilitation services to maximize our inmates’ ability to transition successfully when they leave,” he said. “We have been providing in-custody rehabilitation programs in Florida since the 1990s.”

Costantino-Brown previously had said Corrections recently put out a bid “to bring all (treatment and rehab) in-house in one massive in-prison contract.”

Paez added: “More recently, we have expanded and enhanced our leadership in evidence-based rehabilitation programs around the country through our Continuum of Care initiative that includes comprehensive in-custody offender rehabilitation programming integrated with post release support services such as housing, employment, and transportation assistance. We believe that we are most effective and at our best when those entrusted to our care re-enter society as productive and employable citizens.”

A Corrections spokeswoman earlier had independently responded with a Sept. 26 statement from Secretary Julie Jones that said the department is “not limiting services or the number of individuals served” but is increasing “the number of work release beds and substance abuse care.”

Kevin Cate, spokesman for Bridges of America, denied that assertion, saying the state’s “plan is to remove over 800 beds statewide and replace them with 75 beds in Orlando and 150 in Hillsborough, where no vendors even have a facility … They refuse to deal with the net loss of beds.”

Corrections says ‘we are not limiting services’ to inmates

A Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Thursday said speculation about private prison operator The GEO Group muscling out nonprofits that run rehab and re-entry programs in the state “is false.”

Spokeswoman Michelle Glady responded to a report earlier in the day.

In a press conference, nonprofit heads said the department was shutting down programs that help ex-cons with drug abuse and other problems as they re-enter society, or as one advocate called it, “getting the prison out of the person.”

Bridges of America president and CEO Lori Costantino-Brown said its Orlando facility is the latest on the hit list.

She couldn’t say what was motivating the shutdowns other than a push to consolidate the state’s programs inside prisons themselves.

In an email, Glady provided a copy of a Sept. 26 statement from Corrections Secretary Julie Jones that she said “clearly defines the Department’s actions:”

“Contrary to recent statements made by Bridges of America, the Department is not ending our longstanding partnership with Bridges but rather is inviting them to join with us to expand our community work release and substance abuse treatment opportunities in Orlando.

“This is an exciting time for FDC and I want make it very clear that we are not limiting services or the number of individuals served. In fact, we are soliciting bids for a contract in Orange County that increases the number of work release beds and substance abuse care.

“Today, more than 60 percent of the Department’s substance use disorder budget is dedicated to treating only a small number of individuals. We know we can do better. We want to provide more services to treat an even greater number of individuals with the same resources. That is why … we announced the launch of Spectrum statewide, and with it the reshaping of services being offered to inmates.

“Our data has shown we need to adapt, to offer the right services at the right time in a person’s journey through incarceration. Expanding substance abuse treatment at all levels of incarceration helps us treat the greatest number of inmates who are at the highest risk to reoffend. Preparing these inmates with the proper tools to fight their substance abuse issues, allows us to prepare them for successful transition into community work release.

“Every action we take is strategic and advances our mission to serve Florida’s most challenging population by offering them the greatest chance to succeed.”

Kevin Cate, spokesman for Bridges of America, suggested that DOC’s plan is a smack in the face to those who need help.

“Their plan is to remove over 800 beds statewide and replace them with 75 beds in Orlando and 150 in Hillsborough, where no vendors even have a facility,” he said. “They refuse to deal with the net loss of beds.”

‘No evidence’ GEO Group behind prisoner rehab grab

The head of a nonprofit that runs prisoner re-entry programs in the state said she had “no evidence” her group and others were being muscled out by private prison operator The GEO Group.

But, Lori Costantino-Brown quickly added, there’s been a “lot of speculation” that the company has somehow been involved.

Costantino-Brown, president and CEO of Orlando-based Bridges of America, held a press conference Thursday in Tallahassee with other care providers.

The Department of Corrections has been targeting Bridges in particular as it winds up outside transitional programs for the state’s inmates and probationers. Bridges’ Orlando facility is the latest on the hit list.

Costantino-Brown couldn’t say what was motivating the shutdowns other than a push to consolidate the state’s re-entry programs inside prisons themselves, or “behind the walls,” in the advocates’ lingo.

Then, Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas mentioned she had “spent some time reading the GEO Group’s annual report.” That company, based in Boca Raton, manages the federal government’s 700-bed Broward Transitional Center, for example.

“And one of the things in there is that it indicates it wants to get more into re-entry and transition programs,” Klas said. “Do you have any reason to believe that this is part of what is motivating the (Rick Scott) administration?”

“I have no evidence of that,” Costantino-Brown said. “Certainly, there has been a lot of speculation about their involvement.”

Indeed, the company’s 2015 Annual Report says it has “furthered our commitment to be the world’s leading provider of offender rehabilitation and community re-entry programs, … investing more than $5 million annually to expand our ‘GEO Continuum of Care’ platform.”

In the current state budget, records show $330,000 was set aside for “operation of the GEO Continuum of Care rehabilitation and re-entry program at Blackwater River Correctional Facility,” the company’s men’s prison in Milton.

“We have begun the implementation of ‘GEO Continuum of Care’ programs at more than a dozen correctional facilities around the country in partnership with our state and federal customers,” the annual report says.

“These programs will integrate intensive in-prison rehabilitation with post-release services for inmates completing industry-leading, evidence-based programming in GEO facilities and are aimed at reducing recidivism and helping the men and women in our care successfully re-enter the community.”

The company has invested big in campaign contributions across the country over the years, according to campaign finance records. That includes $3 million to the Republican Party of Florida and $200,000 to Scott’s political committee, “Let’s Get to Work.”

And earlier in the press conference, Costantino-Brown said Corrections had recently put out a bid “to bring all (treatment and rehab) in-house in one massive in-prison contract.”

A request for comment sent to the Governor’s Office was referred to a Corrections spokeswoman, who responded here. As of Thursday afternoon, The GEO Group had not responded to a similar request.


Federal judge orders Fla. voter registration extended to Oct. 18

Calling the state’s Oct. 11 voter registration deadline “constitutionally untenable” in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a federal judge ordered Florida’s registration books remain open till next Tuesday, Oct. 18.

In a Wednesday hearing, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of Tallahassee made clear he had no opinion on when the state closes registration, which is consistent with federal law.

“The hurricane is the issue,” he said, adding that state law has a “gap” in not specifically allowing more time to register after a natural disaster.

Lawyers for Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Florida’s chief elections officer, said the state had “no position” on changing the registration deadline for the Nov. 8 general election.

“There is no right more precious than having a voice in our elections,” said Walker, who on Sunday first extended the deadline to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12.

The Florida Democratic Party and League of Women Voters of Florida, who each filed separate challenges to the deadline, said any extension would be fair because of damage and closures before and after Matthew, which battered the state’s Atlantic coast Oct. 7.

About 1.5 million residents were under a mandatory evacuation order, many of whom returned to homes with no power or Internet access.

Their attorneys admitted, however, that an extension would benefit racial and ethnic minorities, who tend to wait till the last minute to register and then tend to register as Democrats.

In 2012, 181,000 Floridians registered to vote in the nine days before the general election deadline, FDP lawyer Kevin Hamilton said. Those who wanted to register at a voter registration drive at a shopping center, for example, were “deprived of a whole weekend in which they may have registered.”

Similarly, the League asked the court “to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline to account for the lost days and weekend of voter registration up to and including Oct. 18, 2016,” according to its complaint. One complication is that Florida does not yet allow online voter registration.

Scott last week said he wouldn’t use his emergency powers to move the deadline forward. But Walker said even if Scott wanted to extend the deadline, the governor didn’t have the constitutional or statutory authority to do so.

League attorney Myrna Pérez responded to criticism that the deadline should not have been changed, mostly because people already have had enough time to register.

“The realities of modern life are that Americans are increasingly mobile, have multiple jobs, child care responsibilities,” she said. “We need more time for people to register and participate (and) people are going to wait till the last minute.”

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “more than 300,000 voter registration applications were filed online in the last three weeks, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.” Its deadline was Tuesday.

“On Monday, an average of 3,200 landed each hour — and the 77,400 for the day marked a record since the state began letting voters register online in August 2015,” the paper reported. “By midday Tuesday, an additional 23,000 applications were filed.”

Rick Scott activates Emergency Bridge Loan program

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program for small businesses hurt by Hurricane Matthew.

“While Floridians across the state did all they could to prepare for Hurricane Matthew, this was a massive and devastating storm that caused heavy damage throughout our state,” Scott said in a statement.

“I have toured areas throughout Brevard, Volusia, Duval, and Flagler Counties and have seen the shattering effects this disaster had on families and small businesses,” he said. “Restoring Florida’s small businesses is crucial to helping our communities recover from Hurricane Matthew and the Bridge Loan Program will help provide much-needed assistance.”

The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm and recovery efforts, according to a news release. The application period is through Nov. 11.

From the release: “Owners of small businesses with two to 100 employees located in 67 counties affected by Hurricane Matthew can apply for short-term loans for up to $25,000. Loans are granted in terms of 90 or 180 days and are interest-free for that time period. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to this Oct. 3, and demonstrate economic or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew.”

DEO is currently surveying businesses in the affected counties. To access the business survey, click here and select “Hurricane Matthew” from the drop-down menu. For questions on the Bridge Loan program, call the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 850-898-3489.

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