Gov. Rick Scott – Page 7 – Florida Politics

Rick Scott, Cabinet appeal voting rights ruling

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will appeal a federal judge’s order to devise a new process for restoring voting rights to felons.

The Governor’s Office announced the move Wednesday morning. The appeal will be filed with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“People elected by Floridians should determine Florida’s clemency rules for convicted criminals, not federal judges,” Scott spokesman John Tupps said in a statement. “This process has been in place for decades and is outlined in the both the U.S. and Florida constitutions.”

But a citizen initiative resulted in a proposed constitutional amendment getting on the November statewide ballot that would automatically restore the voting rights of certain nonviolent offenders. Now, former prisoners have to wait at least five years before they can vote.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker first decided in February that “Florida’s vote-restoration scheme is crushingly restrictive,” calling it “arbitrary and discriminatory.”

In late March, he permanently blocked Florida’s “fatally flawed” process of restoring voting rights, giving Scott and the Cabinet, which is also the state’s Board of Executive Clemency, one month to come up with a new system of giving back the right to vote to ex-cons.

Florida is home to about 1.5 million citizens who have been stripped from their voting rights, and is one of a few states that disenfranchises convicted felons who have served their sentences.

Solicitor General Amit Agarwal also moved for a stay of the case while the appeal is pending, mentioning a “substantial likelihood” of the state’s success.

“Plaintiffs in this case have not pleaded—much less proven with ‘clear evidence’—that the duly-elected constitutional officers serving on the Board discriminated against them,” he wrote.

“Since adopting the current Rules of Executive Clemency on March 9, 2011, the Clemency Board has ruled on more than 4,200 applications for the restoration of civil rights,” another filing says.

Walker had said the “burdensome” state system felons go through to regain their voting rights relied on a “panel of high-level government officials over which Florida’s governor has absolute veto authority.” He added that “no standards guide the panel.”

“The governor will always stand with victims of crime,” Tupps said Wednesday. “He believes that people who have been convicted of crimes like murder, violence against children and domestic violence, should demonstrate that they can live a life free of crime while being accountable to our communities.”

Board of Executive Clemency member Adam Putnam, the state’s agriculture commissioner, issued his own statement on the appeal later Wednesday.

“For the federal judge to interfere at this stage and say that this process, which has been in place since 1968, is now unconstitutional is extreme,” he said. “We are always looking for ways to improve it, but, as a member of the Clemency Board, my top priority is to make sure the victims have a chance to be heard.”


Background for this post from The News Service of Florida. 

Rick Scott highlights money for military, veterans in Tampa

Gov. Rick Scott visited USAA in Tampa on Monday “to highlight $180 million in total funding in his Securing Florida’s Future Budget to support active military, veterans, and their families.”

The Governor’s Office announced the event in a press release.

He also signed HB 29, which will “increase opportunities and reduce fees for Florida military, veterans and their families.”

The bill, known as the “Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Family Opportunity Act,” expands legislation signed into law by Scott in 2014 (more here) by reducing professional licensing fees and requirements for certain military members, veterans, and their spouses.

This bill also designates March 25 of every year as “Medal of Honor Day” to honor the individuals recognized with the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force in the Armed Services of the United States.

The “Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Family Opportunity Act” was named after the late Rep. Don Hahnfeldt, a veteran and a member of the Florida House of Representatives who passed away last year.

Mike Miller releases first digital ad in FL CD 7 race

Republican state Rep. Mike Miller has released his first digital campaign ad in his quest for Florida’s 7th Congressional District, turning comments from Gov. Rick Scott into campaign support.

The ad shows Miller and Scott meet at a March 21 event at the Orlando Torah Academy in Orlando, where the governor signed House Bill 545, outlawing Florida governments from doing business with any entities boycotting Israel.

While there, as is his custom, Scott praised the local Republican lawmakers who joined in the ceremony. Miller and state Reps. Randy Fine and Bobby Olszewski all were commended by Scott.

Scott’s comments about Miller now are in Miller’s first ad. “The Conservative,” a 19-second spot, begins with a narrator stating, “What’s Gov. Rick Scott saying about conservative Mike Miller? I like Mike.”

The video then has the governor making his comments, saying: “I want to thank Representative Mike Miller for all that he’s done. He’s focused on making sure our taxes are low, everybody can get a job, that we have a great education system, and that people are safe.”

Miller, of Winter Park, faces Scott Sturgill of Sanford, Vennia Francois of Winter Park, and Patrick Weingart of Altamonte Springs, in an August 28 Republican primary race. They each hope for the chance to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in the district that covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County. Murphy also faces a Democratic challenger, Orlando lawyer Chardo Richardson.

“Gov. Scott is a great American, and I’ve enjoyed working with him to keep taxes low and make life better for all Floridians,” Miller stated in a news release issued Monday by his campaign. “I appreciate his kind words about me recently, and I’m proud to call him my friend and my governor. I’m fully supportive of whatever Gov. Scott’s next step will be and look forward to working with him in the future.”

Sturgill’s campaign said it had reached out to Scott’s office for clarification about whether the comments in Miller’s video constitute any endorsement in the race. The governor’s office has not yet responded.

Sturgill’s spokesman Frank Torres called Miller’s ad “disingenuous” and a reaction to Sturgill’s statement last week that alleged Miller’s voting record conflicted with Scott’s policies.

“I would expect this from Stephanie (Murphy) but not from a Republican candidate for Congress,” Torres said in a written statement.

Rick Scott signs 18 bills, including booze delivery; vetoes one

Let the good times roll — to your door.

A bill (HB 667) that would expressly allow Floridians to use a smartphone app to order alcoholic beverages for home delivery was one of 18 signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott on Friday.

Services with apps, such as Drizly and Shipt, already deliver in the state. But “current law does not address orders received via the Internet or other electronic forms of communication,” a staff analysis says.

It was supported by retail and restaurant groups, and by Uber and Target.

Another bill Scott approved directly benefits him: SB 186 reinstates a resign-to-run law that requires candidates seeking federal office to give up their state or local elected office in order to run for Congress.

That bill, however, does not apply to those departing office because of term limits.

That means Scott won’t have to step down early in April when he’s expected to announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

“There are no carve outs,” the bill’s Senate sponsor, St. Augustine Republican Travis Hutson, tweeted Friday. “From day one, I said if you want to run and think you should keep your seat if you lose, it is unacceptable. Termed out means gone, therefore no need to resign.”

Scott also vetoed one measure (HB 1113) that would have allowed the Palm Beach County Housing Authority to add two additional members.

In a veto letter, he said changes “to the established appointment process for county housing authorities should be uniform … to ensure consistency statewide.”

The list of bills OK’d Friday, as provided by the Governor’s Office, is below:

SB 1392 Criminal Justice – This bill increases transparency in the criminal justice system, authorizes the adult civil citation program, and revises the juvenile civil citation program.
SB 186 The Resign-to-Run Law – This bill makes changes to the law on running for public office for current office holders.
HB 165 Written Threats to Conduct Mass Shootings or Acts of Terrorism – This bill prohibits a person from making, posting, or transmitting a threat to conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism in a way that allows another person to view the threat.
HB 185 Redirection of Fees to Tax Collectors – This bill allows Florida tax collectors to retain the processing fees for administering driver license knowledge and skills tests and processing reinstatements of suspended or revoked driver licenses.
HB 215 Motor Vehicles – This bill provides terms of use for autocycles and mobile carriers and prohibits local governments from preventing motor vehicle access to limited transportation points of entry or exit from state universities.
HB 465 Insurance – This bill makes several changes to the insurance statutes, including insurance adjuster license examinations and the documents an insurer can submit for the Own-Risk Assessment compliance.
HB 565 Excess Credit Hour Surcharges – This bill creates a refund for state university students with excess credits who graduate within four years.
HB 667 Beverage Law – This bill allows alcoholic beverage vendors to make deliveries based on electronic orders, such as smartphone applications, and authorizes third-party deliveries.
HB 731 Home Education – This bill provides greater flexibility to families administering home education programs.
HB 961 Beverage Law – This bill provides guidelines for a licensed malt beverage vendor to accept glassware from a distributor.
HB 1091 Early Learning – This bill establishes a statewide program accountability system for School Readiness providers.
HB 1211 Airboat Regulation – This bill requires airboat operators to meet safety requirements to give rides to passengers for-hire.
HB 1265 Alcoholic Beverages – This bill removes the size restrictions on bottles of liquor sold or purchased on intrastate passenger trains.
HB 1285 Florida Business Entities – This bill allows state banks and trust companies to form as social purpose corporations or benefit corporations and renames the Institute for Commercialization of Public Research to the Institute for Commercialization of Florida Technology.
HB 6003 Participant Local Government Advisory Council – This bill abolishes the Participant Local Government Advisory Council, created in 2008 to review the administration of the Local Government Surplus Trust Fund.
HB 6009 Write-in Candidates – This bill repeals current law requiring a write-in candidate to reside within the district represented by the office sought at the time of ballot qualification, which was found unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.
HB 6049 Medical Marijuana Growers – This bill repeals the requirement that a Recognized Class Member License applicant for a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center be a member of the Florida Black Farmers Agriculturalist Association.
HB 6059 Department of Corrections’ Direct-Support Organization – This bill continues the direct support organization within the Department of Corrections.

Legislative leaders ponder special session on gambling

Top men in the Legislature are considering a Special Session to tackle unresolved gambling issues from the 2018 Regular Session, including renewal of a deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe.

It’s all about the money.

The Tribe paid a little more than $290 million last fiscal year into state coffers as part of a 2010 agreement that guarantees it exclusivity to offer certain games, particularly blackjack.

Though the Tribe and the state settled a lawsuit over blackjack, allowing them to offer the game till 2030, the Tribe’s continued payments to the state are contingent on state gambling regulators promising “aggressive enforcement” against games that threaten their exclusivity.


The sides are now in a “forbearance period” that ends March 31, after which point the Tribe is entitled to stop paying. That possibility has House Speaker Richard Corcoran in a fuss.

“The Seminoles’ potential to completely walk away from the forbearance agreement jeopardizes the stability of the state budget,” Corcoran said in a Thursday statement. “We would be forced to cut between $390 and $441 million in General Revenue, or we would have to allow our reserves to be drained, which could jeopardize our state bond rating.

“The House will be discussing our options, including the possibility of a Special Session, with the Governor and the Senate,” he added.

Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, the chamber’s point man on gambling issues, quickly added in a separate statement: “At this point, no decision has been made.”

But there are reasons to believe the Tribe will continue to pay.

“Knowing the Tribe, they don’t act precipitously,” Tribe outside counsel Barry Richard said earlier this week. “ … They don’t want to change their relationship with the state. They’ll only do it if they perceive circumstances to be a meaningful threat to their economic well-being. Or if they think if they’re paying a lot of money and not getting what they’re paying for.”

Lawmakers this year were unable to agree on any comprehensive gambling legislation and did not approve a renewed deal with the Seminoles that would have guaranteed $3 billion to the state over seven years.

“The fact the Legislature didn’t do anything doesn’t mean they’re not interested in talking,” Richard said. “I have never known them to be vindictive or unreasonable. That’s not how they operate.”

There’s another incentive for the Tribe to maintain the status quo: Walking away could spur lawmakers to go back and cut a deal with the state’s pari-mutuels, dog and horse tracks that often also have cardrooms and, in South Florida, slots.

This Session, a consortium of pari-mutuel owners had been working on a proposal to increase the money they give to the state if lawmakers agreed to grant slot machines in counties that OK’d them in local referendums, according to industry sources. The play was to match or beat the revenue share — estimated at close to $300 million a year going forward — coming from the Tribe. 

That, too, would likely require a Special Session — and time is wasting. A proposed “voter control of gambling” constitutional amendment is on November’s ballot. If that’s approved by 60 percent or more, it will give statewide voters sole power to approve future expansions of gambling in Florida.

“Calling a Special Session to expand gambling in an election year is a really bad idea—especially when there is a gambling amendment on the ballot in November,” tweeted former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who now lobbies for the Florida Greyhound Association.

The amendment does have a carve-out to allow lawmakers “to negotiate gaming compacts … for the conduct of casino gambling on tribal lands.”


“During the final weeks of session, the House and Senate made significant progress towards resolving a number issues surrounding gaming in our state,” Galvano’s statement said. “With the approval of President (Joe) Negron and Speaker Corcoran, Speaker-designate (Jose) Oliva and I are continuing to explore possibilities to resolve these issues.

“One of our concerns is the possible loss of revenue from the Seminole Tribe and the resulting impacts on the state budget,” he said. “For that reason, there is a potential that we would need to revisit gaming prior to the start of the 2018-19 fiscal year.”

Added McKinley P. Lewis, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott: “The Governor was made aware that the Legislature was looking at this issue. We will review any proposal they put forward.”

Other reactions Thursday focused on legislators’ motivations.

“Sounds like a way to raise $$ from deep pocketed gaming interests before voters pull the plug in November,” tweeted consultant David Bishop, a former Deputy Secretary of the Florida Lottery under Scott and a spokesman for then-Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Darryl Rouson on voting rights: Fix this now

Democratic state Sen. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg is calling on Gov. Rick Scott to “fix the ‘fatally flawed’ voting rights restoration process for convicted felons.”

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of Tallahassee this week issued a permanent injunction declaring Florida’s restoration process in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments.

“It is past time for Florida to revise and repair its anachronistic and broken voting rights restoration process for felons,” Rouson said in a statement.

“Gov. Scott should hold an emergency Cabinet meeting and remove the required waiting period for restoration of voting rights for all felons and make voting rights restoration automatic upon completion of the sentence,” he added.

Florida is one of only two states where voting rights are lost until completion of a sentence and a mandatory waiting period, according to Rouson. Nebraska has a two-year waiting period while Florida’s is 5-7 years, depending on the offense.

“This isn’t just a voting rights issue—it’s a civil rights issue,” Rouson said. “Selectively restoring voting rights on overly broad and vague criteria with no strict timeline, procedural safeguards or clear standards for restoration of rights denies protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”

A citizen initiative on voting rights restoration, however, will be on the November ballot. If approved by voters, “The Voting Restoration Amendment” would automatically restore some felons’ voting rights after they complete their sentences.

“This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation,” according to the ballot summary.

The proposed amendment to the state constitution would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.

Flags at half-staff for Air Force sergeants killed in Iraq

Gov. Rick Scott ordered flags at half staff for two Florida men killed in a military helicopter crash in the Middle East.

On March 15, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. William R. Posch of Indialantic and Air Force Staff Sgt. Carl Enis of Tallahassee died along with five other crew members in the crash, in western Iraq.

Posch and Enis were pararescuemen with the 308th Rescue Squadron, 920th Rescue Wing, based at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, according to the Governor’s Office.

“As a mark of respect,” Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Brevard County Courthouse in Viera, the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee, Town Hall in Indialantic, City Hall in Tallahassee, and at the Capitol in Tallahassee, from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday. 

“The loss of Master Sgt. William R. Posch, Staff Sgt. Carl Enis and their fellow armed service members is devastating,” Scott said in a statement. “The deaths of these brave men serve as a solemn reminder of the sacrifice and commitment made by our nation’s military to secure and protect the freedom we all cherish as Americans.

“Ann and I know Staff Sgt. Enis’ family personally, and we grieve with them today. I ask that every Floridian pause to remember Master Sgt. Posch and Staff Sgt. Enis and all of those lost in this tragedy.”

Rick Scott signs nursing home generator requirements

Gov. Rick Scott held a signing ceremony Monday for measures that make permanent the state’s emergency rules requiring every nursing home and assisted living facility in Florida to have emergency generators.

The two bills (HB 7099, SB 7028) replace a pair of emergency rules that the Scott administration issued in September.

That followed the deaths of residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a Broward County nursing home that lost its air-conditioning system during Hurricane Irma.

“The tragedy at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills made it clear more needed to be done to ensure the protection of vulnerable Floridians during emergencies like Hurricane Irma,” he said in a statement. “That is why I immediately ordered state agencies to issue emergency rules requiring each nursing home and ALF in Florida to have emergency generators on hand to keep residents safe.

“We fought aggressively to quickly implement this life-saving rule at facilities across the state and I am proud to sign legislation today that makes this rule permanent,” he added. “Florida is one of the first states in the nation to require emergency generators at nursing homes and ALFs, and I appreciate the work of Senate President Joe Negron, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and all the legislators who supported this important legislation.

“As we near the 2018 hurricane season, families can now know the facilities responsible for caring for their loved ones will have the resources needed to be fully prepared ahead of any potential storms.”

The signing event was at the Calusa Harbor Health Center, Continuing Care Community, in Fort Myers.

Along with a requirement that facilities also have 72 hours’ worth of fuel, lawmakers also OK’d a tax break for homes that purchase electric generators.


The News Service of Florida contributed to this post. 

Flags at half-staff for fallen service members

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered flags at half-staff to honor two Navy Aviators: Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King of Port Orange.

They died Wednesday when their F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed on final approach near the Naval Air Station in Key West.

The two were assigned to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron 213, Carrier Air Wing Eight based at the Naval Air Station in Oceana, Virginia.

Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Volusia County Courthouse Annex in Daytona Beach, the Brevard County Courthouse in Viera, City Hall in South Daytona, City Hall in Port Orange, City Hall in Holly Hill, and at the Capitol in Tallahassee, sunrise to sunset on Saturday.

“Florida is proud to be the home of so many brave military members who choose to risk their own lives in defense of our country and our freedom,” Scott said in a statement.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of these two heroes. Ann and I send our deepest condolences to (their) loved ones and fellow service members.”

Rick Scott condemns Israel boycotts as anti-Semitism

Gov. Rick Scott condemned the boycott-Israel movement as anti-Semitism as he signed House Bill 545 in Orlando Wednesday, outlawing Florida governments from doing business with any entities boycotting Israel.

Scott’s bill-signing ceremony Wednesday at the Orlando Torah Academy, a Jewish day school, also served to allow him to tout the $2 million that was included in the state budget to such institutions harden security against terrorist and other potential attacks.

“The state of Florida stands firm with our ally Israel. In 2016 I was proud to sign legislation that prohibited the state, or administration, from investing in companies that boycott Israel. Today I’m proud to sign HB 545, an important piece of legislation that builds on our efforts by prohibiting any state agency and local governments from contracting with companies that boycott Israel,” Scott said.

“This bill sends a message to companies across the world that anti-Semitism has no place in our state or in our country,” Scott said. “By signing this bill we are assuring that Florida will not support those that participate in this intolerant movement. We’re also celebrating our continuing relationship with our great friend and partner, Israel.”

Scott was joined by state Rep. Randy Fine, the Palm Bay Republican who sponsored the bill with Coral Springs Democrat Jared Moskowitz. Also on hand were Republican state Reps. Bobby Olszewski of Winter Garden and Mike Miller of Winter Park.

“I just wish every state would emulate how great you all have responded,” Mimi Jankovitz, director of Teach Florida, an advocacy group for Jewish schools, told Scott and the trio of lawmakers.

The $2 million included this year to improve security and safety at Jewish schools came after $1 million provided last year, an effort that followed a series of bomb threats made against various schools.

“We need to stand with Israel. That’s step one. Step two is we should not be doing business who are boycotting Israel. That’s wrong. And step three is, we’ve got to keep these schools safe,” Scott said.

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