Jack Latvala Archives - Page 3 of 37 - Florida Politics

Rick Scott declines to comment on proposal to repeal immigration bill he signed in 2014

Rick Scott is declining to comment on a proposal filed for the 2017 Florida Legislative Session that would repeal a major immigration policy change that he signed into law two years ago.

Last week, Sarasota state Senator Greg Steube filed a bill (SB 82) that would repeal legislation approved by the GOP-led Legislature in 2014 that offers lower in-state tuition rates at Florida state colleges and universities for undocumented immigrants.

Passage of that bill was uncertain until the end of that year’s Session, but was strongly supported by then-House Speaker Will Weatherford and Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala.

“I haven’t seen it,” Scott told this reporter about the bill as he took questions after hosting a news conference at the Florida Highway Patrol offices in Tampa Monday.

“I think there are about 2,000 bills that are being proposed during the session, so as I go through the process if they get to my desk, I’ll review,” he added. “I need to look at the bill.”

The legislation is a political power keg, as are most items concerning immigration. Scott campaigned as tough on immigration in 2010 when first running for governor, getting behind what was then known as an “Arizona-style” immigration proposal that asked suspects stopped by the authorities for proof of their citizenship, similar in nature to the conversion SB 1070 immigration law passed earlier that year in Arizona.

“We need to come up with an immigration policy that works for the country,’’ Scott said in late 2010. “If you’re stopped in our state — no different than if you’re asked for your ID — you should be able to be asked if you’re legal or not,” he told the Miami Herald.

But the Legislature failed to pass that proposal, along with other major immigration bills in the spring of 2011, including a much-discussed E-Verify bill killed by Lake Wales Republican J.D. Alexander.

In addition to giving the undocumented a break on their college tuition payments, the Legislature in 2014 also passed a bill that would allow some undocumented immigrants to obtain law licenses from the Florida Bar.

There has been no companion bill filed in the House, but there is plenty of time for that to happen, with the 2017 Legislative session not commencing until next March. House District 60 Republican Jackie Toledo campaigned during her primary race on a platform to repeal both measures but has not publicly commented on Steube’s bill.

Pinellas Legislative Delegation to consider changes to construction licensing board

Responding to a request from Charlie Justice, the Pinellas Legislative Delegation will consider changing the way members of the Construction Licensing Board are chosen.

State Sen. Jack Latvala, the delegation chair, called on state Rep. Larry Ahern to come up with a plan by the delegation’s Jan. 31 meeting. State Sen. Jeff Brandes said he wanted Ahern to consider dissolving the board so it would come under control of the Pinellas County Commission.

The licensing board, created in 1973, regulates some construction and home improvement contractors practicing in Pinellas County. It also provides countywide certification and registration of contractors.

It has come under fire in recent weeks because of the way the board members are chosen. Certain organizations and others, named in the statute, suggest members and the chair — currently Justice — of the Pinellas County Commission is responsible for appointing them.

Justice explained the problems in a Nov. 16 letter to Latvala and the delegation:

“When the request to appoint various positions of the PCCLB came before me this fall, I noticed some discrepancies as to the number of appointees provided by the various appointing organizations … In addition, some of the appointing organizations no longer exist or have been adopted under the umbrella of another, similar organization.”

Justice concluded, “I would ask that the Pinellas Legislative Delegation review the laws that pertain to the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and consider amending them to reflect the makeup of the appointing organizations as well as the process by which the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners chair would go about appointing/reappointing board members to the PCCLB.”

Mitch Perry Report for 12.1.16 — What does Rick Scott and rest of Legislature do with bill repealing in-state tuition rates for the undocumented?

Florida lawmakers have been filing bills this week for the 2017 Legislative Session, and one of the most provocative ones so far is an immigration-related issue from Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube.

As initially reported by the Tampa Bay Times Claire McNeill, Steube would repeal the Jack Latvala-sponsored bill that waives out-of-state fees for undocumented Florida high school students.

“It is certainly a big issue in my district among my constituents, who were frustrated and upset that the state would allow undocumented illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-supported, in-state tuition,” Steube told the Times. “So I think it’s important to file the bill and have a discussion on it.”

During the House District 60 GOP primary in Hillsborough County, Republican Jackie Toledo also campaigned on repealing the law, as well as repealing the measure that would allow some illegal immigrants to obtain law licenses from the Florida Bar. Toledo did not respond to FloridaPolitics’ request for comment on Steube’s bill, including whether she would sponsor a House version of it.

There’s no doubt many Republicans in the Legislature will gladly sign on to the bill. If Donald Trump‘s success in the Republican primaries was about anything regarding public policy, it was about being tough on immigration.

But will Rick Scott back repealing a bill he happily supported two years ago? Cynics would say he got behind it because he didn’t want to alienate Latinos as he ran for re-election in 2014. Well, everyone in the world believes he’ll be challenging Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate in 2018, and Florida is only becoming browner. Such a bill would seem punitive, a reversal of the progress made among those who really, through no fault of their own, are considered to be out of compliance (“illegal” if you prefer) with U.S. law.

In other news …

Tampa City Council District 7 candidates Jim Davison and Luis Viera debated for the first time in a one-on-one matchup on Tuesday night (They also debated last night. You can read a complete report on that coming up shortly).

During that debate, former City Councilman Joe Caetano questioned Viera’s endorsement from current Council Chairman Mike Suarez, a longtime friend.

Lakeland GOP Rep. Dennis Ross is now a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.

And instead of moping around after last month’s election debacle, former Florida Democratic Senate candidate Pam Keith is going to Louisiana next week with some fellow D’s to campaign for Senate candidate Foster Campbell.

Jack Latvala, Jeff Brandes will help control the purse strings in Tallahassee next year

When the dust cleared in Tallahassee on Tuesday, one thing was clear: Pinellas was on top when it comes to the state’s funds.

Republican Sens. Jack Latvala and Jeff Brandes, who represent parts of Pinellas, landed some plum appointments. Latvala will be the chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and alt. chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission. Brandes will have a seat on the Appropriations Committee and be the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.

The news was welcomed by local elected officials who expect to ask Tallahassee for money in 2017.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s office issued a statement, saying, “Their appointments are great news for the city of St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Bay Region.”

Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, who will chair the commission in 2017, agreed, saying, “I’d like to think it would be very good for Pinellas County.”

Long said the county has just begun work on its legislative package for the coming year.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has also begun work on its legislative package. St. Petersburg council member Darden Rice, the PSTA chair, said two projects high on the agenda are rapid transit from the Tampa airport to Clearwater and Clearwater Beach and a bus lane on the Clearwater causeway.

Both Latvala and Brandes are aware of the need for the projects, she said. And Brandes, in particular, has already been supportive of innovative PSTA programs that involve partnerships with companies like Uber and Lyft.

The PSTA, Rice said, “is very fortunate to have two such strong senators. I think this will be very helpful.”

That help, she said, can extend to other issues. One such is the sewer and infrastructure problems facing Pinellas. Although St. Petersburg has taken the brunt of criticism after dumping thousands of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage in the bay during two storms this year, the problem with infrastructure is countywide. Latvala has called two delegation meetings for fact finding.

“I think they had a very clear picture of St. Petersburg’s struggles,” Rice said. “We need help from the state to fix our fragile infrastructure.”

Rice said she’s not talking only about St. Petersburg’s infrastructure. It’s the entire county, she said. That’s another place that the senator’s appreciation for regional solutions will be helpful.

Rice noted that Latvala is known for fighting for what he believes in. That’s good for the county.

“He’s a bruiser,” Rice said. “He’s not afraid to go in and fight for what’s right.”

Mitch Perry Report for 11.29.16 — Will President Trump ‘terminate’ Obama deal with Cuba?

The first regularly scheduled flight in more than 50 years flew from Miami to Havana yesterday morning, just in time to begin the formal mourning for Fidel Castro, which leads to the question du jour — What will Donald Trump do with the Cuba-U.S. relations?

The President-elect tweeted that “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal.”

To date, Cuba hasn’t appeared to reciprocate very much in terms of the U.S.’s lifting of travel, banking, and commercial sanctions. The White House pushes back on that, but that is very much the perception, and that’s why Trump is saying Raul Castro needs to do something to ensure the new policy stays in place.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also said with so many American companies now doing business in Cuba, it won’t be so easy to roll back the Obama policies. That includes 110 flights daily from the U.S. to Cuba from various American cities, including Tampa, that will soon commence.

You could argue that when Trump gets his national security team in place, Cuba will rank far below other hot spots they will be concerned about, with Syria, Afghanistan, the Middle East, China, and Russia taking the lead.

Yet Fidel’s death puts this situation in his face — and ours.

Like so much else with the PEOTUS, what will his foreign policy be, especially from such a business-oriented individual? It sounds lame, but nobody really has the answer now. Or do you?

In other news …

Luis Viera and Jim Davison will debate tonight in New Tampa. Viera has now raised more than five times as much money than Davison in the race, for whatever that’s worth in this small local election.

Jack Latvala is still upset that a handful of NFL players are choosing to sit down during the playing of the national anthem.

Although there are through analyses that debunk the theory that President Obama’s diplomatic moves towards Cuba alienated the Cuban-American community in this month’s presidential election, strident  Castro critic Ralph Fernandez thinks otherwise.

And House Minority Leader Janet Cruz says she’s good with the new rules voted on last week by the entire House that came from Speaker Richard Corcoran — except for that thing about allowing members to bring guns onto the floor.

Jack Latvala still upset about NFL players sitting during national anthem

Two weeks ago, Republican Jack Latvala posted a statement on his Facebook page blasting Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Mike Evans for choosing to sit on the bench during the playing of the national anthem. A day later, after being barraged with a firestorm of criticism, Evans said he would no longer do so.

Now, the Clearwater state Senator is calling on the public to sign a petition informing the National Football League that they proudly stand for the anthem.

“If NFL players are going to sit, let’s all sit,” Latvala wrote on his Facebook page Monday afternoon. “Sit on our wallets instead of spending money on NFL tickets and merchandise. Sit in our homes or somewhere else on Sunday instead of NFL stadiums. Sign our petition to tell the NFL that you proudly stand for our National Anthem.”

Only a small group of players have followed the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision during the pre-season to sit during the anthem. Kaepernick says he is doing so to protest the treatment of blacks by law enforcement and the larger society. One of those players on Sunday who sat was Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, who did so in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, situated across the bay from Latvala’s senate district.

While Latvala has received plenty of “thumbs-up” on his page indicating support for his position, he has also received some criticism, not surprising considering how emotional the issue is for some people.

“Are we now in a police state or is this still the United States of America,” asked Judy Micco. “We have so many more issues on which to spend our time and energy.”

But James Barker agreed, writing,” Do not tune into NFL – I enjoy the time not wasted on NFL any longer – enjoy our beaches instead!”

With NFL television ratings below the standard in recent years, there has been speculation that fans turned off by Kaepernick’s actions have been boycotting watching the league.  Others say the ratings were down because of the excitement about the presidential election.

A Yahoo/YouGov Poll conducted last month showed that 29 percent of NFL fans said they were watching less pro football than in recent years, which 40 percent blamed the national anthem protests. It was an especially popular reason for those 55 and over, with 53 percent of that demographic citing protests as their main reason for boycotting the league.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.16.16 — Who will be our next Secretary of State?

Now that the shock is starting to wear off over Donald Trump’s stunning upset in the presidential election a week ago, the biggest story in national politics is what he intends to do with his enormous power and who will help him do it.

That means the selection of cabinet officers, with the most high-profile position being that of secretary of state.

George W. Bush picked Colin Powell immediately after winning the recount election in late 2000; Barack Obama picked Hillary Clinton quick after his election in 2008 — what does Donald do?

The two names floated for the position are not being welcomed with universal approval, to say the least. I’m talking about Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton.

Because of his passionate advocacy for Trump during the campaign season (to put it politely), Rudy apparently has the pick of the litter of jobs in the new administration, and he wants State. But what’s his experience there? Apparently it consists of giving a lot of speeches and consulting work.

Then there’s his business background, which includes lobbying for Citgo, a U.S.-based subsidiary of the Venezuelan oil conglomerate, as well as business with Qatar, which could be problematic when he has his confirmation hearing before the Senate.

Then there’s the decision to invade Iraq, arguably the biggest foreign policy debacle in the U.S. since Vietnam.

Trump stood out during the campaign for his strident opposition to it, boasting he was always against it. Though that claim was disputed, the more salient point was how, more than any other Republican running in the race, he assailed the war in incendiary terms, freaking out some of the GOP establishment (i.e. Jeb Bush and friends).

Rudy was for the war. So was Bolton. Bigly.

Again, this comes down to: What Does Donald Believe? If he thinks that the invasion of Iraq was such a horrible thing, how could he choose as his top emissary to the world somebody who fervently believed it was the right thing to do?

Maybe this is a big head feint, or maybe there isn’t any prominent person in the GOP who was against the war with the credentials and gravitas to lead at State? It’s one of the many, many questions the whole world will be interested in learning about very rapidly.

In other news …

Dan Rather was in St. Petersburg last Friday night. The 85-year-old reporter said we’re now in a “post-truth” era.

For the first time in his time as president, Barack Obama endorsed more than 150 Democrats running for legislative seats around the nation. In Florida, he backed 13 Dems — and at best will come out 6-7 on those picks.

The Tampa Bay Bucs’ Mike Evans heard enough negative feedback, no doubt, to have a change of heart about sitting down for the national anthem in the Trump era. Among his leading critics was Pinellas County state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Lisa Montelione is backing Luis Viera to succeed her in the Tampa City Council District 7 seat.

Pam Bondi and attorneys general in four other states and the District of Columbia announced a deal regarding ticket pricing with the NFL.


Jack Latvala message heard: Bucs Mike Evans to resume standing for anthem

After igniting a firestorm of criticism for his decision to sit down during the playing of the national anthem Sunday to protest Donald Trump’s election, Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Mike Evans said on Tuesday that going forward he will focus on “more effective ways to communicate my message,” and will stand with his teammates once again this coming Sunday.

In a statement, the Bucs receiver began by apologizing to all members of the military, their families, and the fans who he offended, saying that was never his intention.

“I have very strong emotions regarding some of the many issues that exist in our society today,” he said. “I chose to sit as an expression of my frustration towards this year’s election. It was very personal for me, as it was for so many Americans.”

But the 23-year-old from Galveston added he won’t be sitting out the anthem this coming Sunday in Kansas City, saying, “I want to focus my efforts on finding more effective ways to communicate my message and bring about change by supporting organizations and movements that fight for equal rights for minorities. This Sunday, I will be back to standing with my teammates.”

Clearwater GOP state Sen. Jack Latvala lashed out at Evans on Monday in two posts on his Facebook page, writing that his decision to sit out the playing of the anthem was “a slap in the face to our veterans, our active duty military and every freedom-loving American in Tampa Bay. I am deeply offended and will not attend another Bucs game until Evans either apologies or is no longer on the team.”

To add insult to injury for Latvala and other critics, was the fact that Evans chose his form of dissent on the same day the NFL team honored military veterans was unacceptable.

“The military plays a special role in our community,” Latvala said. “We have 12,000 active duty military stationed at MacDill Air Force Base including the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, in addition to our more than 133,ooo retired military living here. We love and respect our military in Tampa Bay. Evans, who makes $3.6 million a year to play football, needs to better understand what we stand for here in Tampa Bay. I call on Buccaneer fans and our community to send him a loud message.”

The fact that Evans didn’t vote in last week’s election also angered some citizens.

Meanwhile, Latvala, never one to not stake out a position, received hundreds of “likes” on his Facebook page for his comments, but also took in his share of negative responses.

“If Donald Trump can say ANYTHING, no matter how hurtful, against a war hero like John McCain, against disabled people, against women, and you are OK with that, a man standing up (by sitting) for human rights is a breath of fresh air,” wrote Ginger Tatarzewski.

“As a Army Gulf War veteran, I can say I’m not exactly happy but certainly not offended,” wrote Bryan Parker. “I fought for everyone’s freedom of speech and I stand behind Mike Evans and anyone else’s right to not stand during the anthem. Why don’t you do us all a favor and come down off your high horse.”

“Evans didn’t swear an oath. Why should he have to stand?,” wrote Tasha Torrid. “They don’t play the silly anthem when I go to work, now it’s somehow part of his job requirement? He was hired to throw a ball, not worship some magical sky cloth.”
There were also plenty who sided with Latvala.
“As a veteran, I feel it’s a slap in the face when I see someone sitting during the national anthem unless you are wheelchair bound,” said Steve Kaplan. “Most of these protesters don’t even know what they are protesting about. They are just a bunch of sheep; get over it.”
‘Thank you for your stance on this,” Constance Wentworth writes on. “Yes we have our First Amendment right, but Mike Evans did not vote, nor has he followed politics (by his own saying ) that is a huge slap in the face! I am donating my season tickets to the Wounded Warrior project! Maybe if he spent time around Our Veterans he will understand! Better yet go to a Veteran’s Funeral as they are handing that Folded Flag while playing the National Anthem to a Mother who lost her son, or a wife who lost her husband! Our Veterans stood for us, We should stand for them!”

Mitch Perry Report for 11.15.16 — The non-voters speak out

Mike Evans is feeling the heat today — and so is his employer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Evans decision to sit during the playing of the national anthem before Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium versus the Chicago Bears to protest the election of Donald Trump as president is predictably receiving negative reviews in Tampa — the home of MacDill Air Force Base — and the country.

Among those critics is Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, who says he’s “tired of it.”

Since this was the first time Evans has done this, I’m assuming the legislator is referring to other incidents of NFL players sitting or kneeling down for the anthem this season, beginning with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

Their motivations are different, of course; Kaepernick wanted to shine attention on protest brutality and racial injustices. Evans’ issue is with Trump, whose appeal to black voters during the campaign was “what the hell do you have to lose?” in comparison to backing Democrat Hillary Clinton.

One thing both men didn’t do last week was take the time to vote, which has angered some folks who are sympathetic to their flexing of their First Amendment rights. In that respect, they’re not a minority, as roughly 100 million eligible Americans also chose not to exercise their franchise last week.

Although some folks disturbed by that number have made suggestions that could improve that figure — like holding elections on a Sunday (like many other nations do and Louisiana does with their primary) or automatically restoring voters. The fact is that shy of making it mandatory, some Americans — even those who say they care about the process — often choose to blow it off, for whatever reason.

Kaepernick makes $19 million this year; Evans a little less than $4 million, which might make it a little easier to think that whomever is elected, it’s not really going to affect their livelihood. Kaepernick said Sunday it would have been hypocritical for him to vote.

“I said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against the system of oppression,” he said. “I’m not going to show support for that system. And to me, the oppressor isn’t going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression.”

When it was revealed last week that Kaepernick hadn’t voted, noted ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith went off and said Kaepernick was a hypocrite.

“After all this noise that you made, even though you didn’t intended to do so, by offending our military service men and women, and pointing out about how you wanted to bring attention to racial injustices and beyond in this country, to turn around and not even take your behind to the polls to vote for a particular candidate, it is shameful! Absolutely shameful!”

In other news …

The Progressive Democratic Caucus of Florida wants Florida Republicans to denounce the appointment of former Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon to Donald Trump’s administration.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is calling on her Democratic colleagues to wear a safety pin on their clothes to demonstrate solidarity with those fearful of Trump being in power.

A spokesman for St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman says the door is open for Trump to visit his city, a year after he (jokingly) tweeted he wasn’t welcome.

Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans’ decision to sit down during the playing of the national anthem on Sunday to protest Donald Trump’s election isn’t going down in some quarters, including with state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Vern Buchanan has contacted Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, pushing for serious tax reform under the Trump administration

Former State House District 59 Rep. Ed Narain is the latest name being bandied as the possible next chairman of the Florida Democratic Party.

Cyril Spiro is endorsing Jim Davison over Luis Viera in that special Tampa City Council District 7 seat runoff.

Jack Latvala blasts Mike Evans for sitting down during national anthem

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans‘ decision to sit during the national anthem before Sunday’s game to protest Donald Trump’s election as president is provoking strong reaction, including fierce criticism from Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala.

“I support the First Amendment and everyone’s right to protest,” Latvala wrote on his Facebook page. “But to disrespect our flag and national anthem especially on the day of the team’s salute to veterans is completely uncalled for.”

Evans told reporters after the Bucs 36-10 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday he meant no disrespect to veterans.

“The men and women that have served this country, I’m forever indebted to them,” said Evans. “But the things that have been going on in America lately, I’m not going to stand for that.”

Evans isn’t the first NFL player to sit during the anthem during the 2016 season. Unlike Colin Kaepernick and others, however, Evans isn’t doing it to protest the treatment of blacks and other people of color. He’s protesting the new president-elect.

“I’m not going to stand for something I don’t believe in,” Evans said to reporters inside the locker room at Raymond James Stadium. “I’m not big on politics. I told myself, ‘If this happens, then America’s not right, right now.’ I said this a long time ago. When (Trump) ran, I thought it was a joke. And the joke continues. I’m not a political person that much, but I’ve got common sense. I know when something’s not right.”

Latvala says he’ll personally boycott attending Bucs games until Evans apologizes — or is cut or traded by the team.

“I am making the choice to exercise my right to protest by not setting foot in Raymond James Stadium until this young man either apologizes or is off the team!” he writes. “I hope others who feel the same way will join me.”

The Bucs said in a statement they “encourage all members of our organization to respectfully honor our flag during the playing of the national anthem. We also recognize every individual’s constitutional right to freedom of speech.”

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