Joe Negron Archives - Page 3 of 42 - Florida Politics

Joe Negron’s class act: ‘Here, Dorothy Hukill, take my spot’

Session hasn’t even started, and we already have a winner for “Legislative Nice Guy of 2018″—Senate President Joe Negron.

Negron, who we’ve already reported as having found a new gear as he enters his last year in leadership, gave up his primo parking spot in the Capitol garage so that his colleague, Dorothy Hukill, can use it.

Hukill missed the entire 2017 Legislative Session due to cancer treatments. But she returned this week to a round of applause from her colleagues during roll call in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

The Port Orange Republican spent the 2017 Session watching the session on a pair of screens — a home computer and an iPad — at her home while recovering from cervical cancer. Radiation treatments ended just as the 2017 Session was coming to a close.

“It’s very exciting to be in the (committee) room,” Hukill told Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida. “It’s lovely to watch it on the wonderful Florida Channel, which I was very, very happy to have. But I’d rather be here.”

Undoubtedly, Hukill still is recovering from her treatments. And because every extra step walked can be a chore, a few hundred feet saved by having the Senate President’s parking spot has to be a relief.

Still, Hukill told reporters she expects the welcome-backs and hugs from her colleagues to quickly give way to legislative normalcy.

“It’s exciting to be back,” she said. “People are giving give me a breather for a day or two.”

Bill Galvano leads Senate campaign arm to record-breaking Q3 haul

The main committee supporting GOP state Senate campaigns went into overdrive last quarter according to new fundraising reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee raised more than $3.2 million from July through the end of September.

Those numbers are way up from the April to June reporting period when FRSCC took in $720,000.

Putting the new numbers side by side with the past three off-cycle Q3 reports, however, shows there is a bit more pep in the committee’s step of late.

Over the same three month stretch in 2011, FRSCC brought in a little over $2.1 million. Two years later, the committee had a $1.85 million third quarter, while Q3 2015 saw a little more than $2 million head to the committee’s coffers.

The special election in Miami-Dade’s SD 40 can claim credit for the some of that boost, same as the 2015 special in SD 6 and the 2011 contest for the old SD 1, but those quarters still fall short of Q3 2017.

The only other difference maker is Bradenton Sen. Bill Galvano, who took over fundraising duties for the committee in the summer.

His own committee, “Innovate Florida,” brought in about $650,000 over the past few months, including $218,500 in September alone, and handed $150,000 of that haul over to FRSCC.

The exceptional quarter hasn’t gone unnoticed by top Senate Republicans, either.

“The record fundraising levels reached over the last few months reflect the strength of our Republican leadership and the faith donors place in our commitment to proven and effective policy that benefits all Floridians,” said Majority Leader Wilton Simpson.

Simpson is set to take over the Senate presidency after the 2020 elections, and his committee, “Jobs for Florida” also handed over quite a bit to FRSCC this summer. It sent over $160,000 in August and threw in another $100,000 last month.

Expanding Bright Futures makes good policy, better politics

Florida families by the millions are aspiring to a new American dream – debt-free college education for their children.

Considering the myriad challenges facing the Sunshine State, Senate President Joe Negron believes nearly everyone can agree that improving opportunities for Florida students must be placed at the top of the list.

That is why the Stuart Republican has become a driving force behind the effort to expand scholarships for 44,000 Bright Futures Scholars under SB 4, a bill approved Monday by the Senate Education Committee.

Sponsored by Bradenton state Sen. Bill Galvanothe “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act” – one of Negron’s top priorities – is set for the 2018 Legislative Session.

SB 4 seeks to increase the scholarship available for “medallion scholars” attending state universities, raising it from the current $77 per credit hour to $159, about 75 percent of tuition cost and fees. The legislation will also extend need-based aid programs, doubling the state’s matching funds for “first generation” students in the college scholarship program.

Currently, Florida offers a 1-to-1 match for private donations, providing an average scholarship of $1,270 for the 8,361 participating students during the 2016-17 academic year.

Negron calls the expansion of Bright Futures part of Florida’s commitment to ensuring children have access to “world-class education opportunities” where “no student who earns entry to one of our state colleges or universities is denied that opportunity simply because they can’t afford the cost of tuition.”

If passed, the bill will make permanent Bright Futures Scholarships for approximately 94,000 students, which Negron said will lead to a significant boost in the number of productive individuals entering the workforce to contribute to Florida’s economy.

Expanding Bright Futures also makes good political sense, regardless of party. With some luck, Negron hopes SB 4 can avoid becoming a political pawn, held hostage during the upcoming 60-day legislative work session set to begin in January.

Let’s not forget, politics is an art of connecting not only based on similarities, but also aspirations. It’s the aspirational part that so many seem to forget.

To that end, Negron is challenging a bipartisan group of lawmakers who will soon face Florida voters – namely Republican 2018 gubernatorial candidates Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala, Democrats Chris King and Gwen Graham, as well as a few undeclared names like John Morgan, Richard Corcoran, and potential U.S. Senate hopeful Rick Scott – to take a stand and fight for Florida Bright Futures Scholars.

 

Wilton Simpson’s committee raised $209K in September

Future Senate President Wilton Simpson brought in more than $200,000 through his political committee last month, and forked over half that sum to the committee supporting GOP candidates for state senate.

The Trilby Republican’s committee, Jobs for Florida, raised $209,500 in September, with a good chunk of that money coming in through a handful of large checks.

Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance gave $50,000, while the Florida Medical Association, Mosaic Global Sales and a political committee tied to former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Growing Florida’s Future, chipped in $25,000 each. Florida Blue and the Florida Hospital Association also made the donor roll with $20,000 contributions.

The committee’s spending clocked in at $204,700 for September, but $100,000 of that money went directly into the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, chaired by Senate President Joe Negron and used to help Republican senate campaigns statewide.

Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, chaired by uber political consultant Anthony Pedicini, got a $20,000 contribution from Simpson’s committee.

Also on the expense report were Capital Finance Consulting, which received $50,500 for fundraising and consulting work, and Meteoric Media Strategies, which was paid $22,500 for consulting.

With September in the books, Jobs for Florida has about $1.63 million in cash on hand. Simpson, who is almost certain to take over as Senate president in 2020, has another $280,000 on hand for his 2018 re-election bid.

Annette Taddeo named to insurance, environment panels

With a swearing-in ceremony scheduled Tuesday, newly elected Sen. Annette Taddeo will serve on five Senate panels, including committees that play key roles in insurance and environmental issues.

Taddeo won a closely watched special election Sept. 26 to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican who resigned in April from the Senate District 40 seat.

Senate President Joe Negron has appointed Taddeo to serve on the Banking and Insurance Committee; the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee; the Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee; the Transportation Committee; and the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, according to the Senate website.

Also this week, Taddeo opened a campaign account as a first step in running for a full term in 2018, according to the state Division of Elections website.

Martin County ‘water farm’ expanded

Caulkins Citrus Co. launched the expansion of its Indiantown “water farm,” increasing the reservoir from an existing 413 acres to 3,200 acres.

“The expansion of the facility was completed in just nine months,” the company said in a press release Tuesday. “The additional acres will now allow the water farm to store up to 35 billion gallons of water per year from the C-44 Canal.”

“It is gratifying to see this property, which was once a thriving citrus grove, now being used to protect and preserve Martin County’s estuaries from damaging discharges,” said George Caulkins, president of the company, in a statement.

“This project became a reality thanks to the support of Senate President (Joe) Negron, and our partners at the Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.”

Here’s the rest of the release:

Years ago, the Caulkins’ family land was used for citrus production. However, as citrus greening destroyed the Caulkins’ citrus groves, the land was transformed into a water farm to store and clean water coming from the C-44 Canal.

A natural filtration process occurs through the sandy soil on the farm, removing at least 75 percent of the phosphorus and 50 percent of the nitrogen from the water pumped onto the farm.

Negron, who has long been a champion for clean water initiatives, joined Caulkins at a press event.

“The Caulkins Water Farm provides desperately needed water storage to help us reduce and ultimately eliminate the harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Indian River Lagoon,” he said.

“This successful project demonstrates that Florida can achieve short term solutions to reduce discharges while at the same time building the long-term water storage infrastructure to solve the problem once and for all.”

The water farm pilot project, which launched in 2014 with the 16-county South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), was the first project of its kind in the state to be operational. The project has also been recognized by experts as immediately exceeding expectations for storing more than four times the amount of water expected.

Also in attendance was Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, along with state Rep. MaryLynn Magar, Chairman Doug Smith of the Martin County Board of County Commissioners, Brandon Tucker of the SFWMD Governing Board, Ernie Marks, executive director of the SFWMD, Stuart Mayor Troy McDonald, and other community and environmental leaders.

“The storage provided by the Water Farm will complement the C-44 Canal and other vital Everglades restoration projects,” Valenstein said. “DEP is proud to be a partner in this project, and remains committed to enhancing water storage and improving water quality in Florida’s treasured Everglades.”

…The expanded water farm came online with the capability to pump up to 151 million gallons of water per day onto the property, preventing that nutrient-laden water from reaching the St. Lucie Estuary.

Pro-Confederate group heats up HD 58 race

As a registered nonprofit group, Save Southern Heritage can’t endorse candidates.

However, they can provide “information” to voters,  and the inference from the cards it’s mailed out to 3,000 households in House District 58 in eastern Hillsborough County indicates it likes the responses that Lawrence McClure gave the group, as opposed to Yvonne Fry, who opted not to respond to the organization’s questionnaire.

McClure and Fry are engaged in an intense battle for the Republican Party primary in the special election to succeed Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson, who stepped down from the seat for health reasons, with more than a year on his term last month.

The 30-year-old McClure is a partner in environmental consulting firm Streamline Environmental. The 45-year-old Fry is a small businesswoman and civic activist from Plant City.

Save Southern Heritage Florida is the advocacy group that fought to maintain the Confederate statue in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse annex, an effort they lost last month when the Board of County Commissioners voted to remove the monument after the private sector contributed half the expected costs of the move.

The group asked McClure four questions pertinent to their constituency, all revolving around Confederate monuments. When asked if he supported keeping the monument in Tampa, Frank said he did.

“I have been on on record at club meetings and debates that would have had a vote on the Hillsborough County Commission to remove the Confederate monument outside of the downtown Tampa courthouse, I would’ve voted no. I think it should stay,” he responded.

Fry is on the record as having said that she did support keeping the monument in place, something she repeated to FloridaPolitics earlier this week.

“We have been on the record on this issue for over a month,” said Brock Mikosky, Fry’s campaign manager. “Yvonne believes that our history is our history and the monuments should not be removed. Further, the attempts to take down these monuments and each ensuing fight is a waste of resources and a distraction from real problems facing our communities.”
The questionnaire also asked if a statue of Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith representing Florida should be removed from the U.S. Capitol. McClure said it should not.

The Florida Legislature agreed last year to remove Smith’s statue, but it still remains in National Statuary Hall because lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement on a replacement.

Last month, 11 House Democrats from Florida sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron urging them to call a special session on finding that replacement. No action was taken.

The GOP primary for HD 58 is Oct. 10.

Lake Okeechobee rise spurs more water releases

Water started to be released Tuesday morning southwest from Lake Okeechobee, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeks to stem a post-hurricane rise in the lake’s water level.

The Army Corps had resumed flows Friday from the lake east toward the St. Lucie Estuary but held off on western releases because of flooding from Hurricane Irma that has slowed storm recovery in Southwest Florida.

Power remained out Tuesday for about 2 percent of homes and businesses in Florida after Irma. However, the outage numbers stood at 29 percent in Hendry and Highland counties, 20 percent in Collier County and 10 percent in Lee County, all on the west side of the lake.

“The challenges with high water that we saw on the Caloosahatchee last week have subsided,” Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander of the Army Corps, said in a prepared statement, referring to the Caloosahatchee River in Southwest Florida. “Starting releases from the lake now will help slow the rise so we can retain as much storage as possible in the lake for future precipitation events.”

Water releases stem, at least in part, from concerns about the Herbert Hoover Dike, a 143-mile earthen berm that surrounds the lake.

The risk of failure for the dike occurs when the water level reaches 18 feet or higher, and projected inflows on Friday had the lake level soon reaching around 17 feet.

The lake stood at 14.83 feet on Friday and had increased to 15.5 feet on Monday, as water rushes in from the Kissimmee River to the north and from agricultural lands south of the lake.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Eric Draper executive director of Audubon Florida and a prominent environmental lobbyist. “This is every reason why we need the ability to send that (lake) water south and why we need that additional storage capacity in the Everglades.”

State lawmakers this year approved an $800 million plan spearheaded by Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, to start work on a reservoir south of the lake.

The Senate plan – which depends on federal matching funds – allows Florida to bond the money as a way to speed construction. By moving water south from the lake to a reservoir, the plan is intended to help clean South Florida waterways and potentially reduce the recurrence of toxic algae outbreaks that have impacted Negron’s Treasure Coast district in past years.

Treasure Coast residents blame polluted water releases from Lake Okeechobee for the algae outbreaks.

In an Aug. 31 letter, Kirk advised the South Florida Water Management District that the Army Corps “will initiate identification of funding opportunities for the effort.”

Irma made landfall Sept. 10 in the Florida Keys and Collier County before traveling up the state Sept. 11.

On Sept. 12, the Army Corps declared the Herbert Hoover Dike safe. At the time, the dike was 14.55 feet.

Before the storm, Gov. Rick Scott ordered the mandatory evacuation of seven communities south of the lake, due to fears that wind from the hurricane could push water over the berm.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson each break $200K in August

Future Senate Presidents Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson had big fundraising hauls last month, according to finance reports filed by their committees.

Galvano, who is set to take over for Senate President Joe Negron after the 2018 elections, brought in $213,000 for his “Innovate Florida” committee last month and so far has brought in $50,000 in September.

The largest August contributions came from the Florida Retail Federation and Disney Worldwide Services, which gave $40,000 a piece, while Southeast QSR, The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Dex Imaging each gave $25,000.

The lone September contribution came from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a political committee chaired by Associated Industries of Florida VP of Political Operations Ryan Tyson.

Expenditures for August came in at $319,000, with another $50,000 spent so far in September.

Topping the list was a $50,000 contribution to Tampa-based political committee Taxpayers in Action, and $25,000 contributions to Liberty Florida and the First Amendment Fund. Liberty Florida got another $25,000 from Galvano’s committee on the first of the month.

Galvano finished July with about $482,000 on hand in his political committee, and the new numbers show him with about $380,000 on hand as of Sept. 5.

Simpson’s committee, “Jobs for Florida,” took in $282,500 in August and spent $211,000, leaving it with about $1.6 million on hand on Sept. 1.

The 2021-22 Senate President designate’s biggest donors were the Florida Jobs PAC and the Florida Prosperity Fund, each of which chipped in $50,000. Florida Jobs is associated with the Florida Chamber, while the Florida Prosperity Fund is a political committee tied to AIF.

The Florida Manufactured Housing Association, Racetrac and the Florida Insurance Council also gave $25,000 apiece.

By far the biggest expenditure for Simpson’s committee was a $160,000 contribution to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm for Senate Republicans.

Capital Finance Consulting got the bulk of the rest, with about $40,000 heading to the Tallahassee-based firm for fundraising and governmental consulting.

Legislative committee week cancelled

Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran have cancelled next week’s legislative committee week because of Hurricane Irma, they said in separate memos to members Wednesday.

Negron also said Senate offices in the Capitol “will remain open during regular business hours tomorrow (Thursday) … District staff should contact each Senator to determine appropriate office hours in your district offices as the storm approaches.

“As a precautionary measure, consistent with the Governor’s decision to close state offices in all 67 counties, I have authorized discretionary leave for all Senate employees, and all Senate offices will be closed on Friday,” he added.

“Please use this time to prepare your family and home. The specific trajectory of this unprecedented storm is still uncertain and impacts could vary drastically across the state. All Floridians need to be ready. Staff should monitor local weather advisories and adhere to local evacuation orders.”

Negron, a Stuart Republican, also authorized “Senate staff interested in volunteering in support of the state’s emergency shelter mobilization efforts up to 15 days of administrative leave.”

“I encourage all Senate employees to tend to the needs of your own family prior to pursuing volunteer opportunities,” he said. “We each have a responsibility to prepare our families and homes so that limited government resources can be used to help the most vulnerable. Please be safe and cautious during this time.”

In his memo, Corcoran said the next committee week would be Oct. 9-13. He also ordered all House offices closed on Friday.

“Earlier today, Gov. Scott stated that there is a need for volunteers at shelters throughout the state,” Corcoran added. “Please be supportive of these efforts if you are near an affected region.”

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