Pam bondi – Page 3 – Florida Politics

Maggie’s List kicks off 2018 cycle with March 27 fundraiser

Maggie’s List, a federal PAC that works to elect and support fiscally conservative women in Congress and the U.S. Senate, is holding its first fundraiser of the 2018 cycle on March 27 in Tampa.

The event will be held at the home Brandy Puls from noon to 2 p.m. and a number of Republican elected officials are slated to attend, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, state Sen. Dana Young, state Rep. Kathleen Peters and state Rep. Jackie Toledo.

Also on the docket as “special guests” are U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody, who was endorsed by Maggie’s List in December.

The event invite lists three contribution tiers. Donors who pitch in $1,000 can get a spot on the host committee, while the individual tier measures in at $250 and the young professional level is listed at $100.

To join the Host Committee or RSVP drop a line to Margarida Sepda via 813-944-8964 extension 308, or send an email to msepa@lsimi.com.

Currently on the host committee are Beth Basham, Kelly O’Brien, Karen Pittman, RSA Consulting Group CEO Ron Pierce, and Nancy and Robert Watkins.

The event hosts are listed as Leslie Saunders, Wendy Pepe, former Florida Secretary of State Sandra Mortham, former chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida and the Indian River County tax collector Carole Jean Jordan and On 3 Public Relations President Christina Johnson.

The event invitation is below:

Maggie's List invitation

Pam Bondi to fight for Winter Haven’s Ritz Theatre

Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a complaint against the non-profit charged “with renovating and operating The Ritz Theatre in downtown Winter Haven,” her office said in a press release Tuesday.

The Ritz Theatre 100, Inc. was named as defendant, as was Stella C. Heath, its executive director.

“The complaint alleges that misconduct and mismanagement by the defendants have placed the future of the Ritz Theatre in jeopardy,” the release says.

“Despite substantial grants, gifts, and funding from the State of Florida, the City of Winter Haven, and others to pay for needed renovations and operating costs, the Ritz Theatre remains underutilized, strapped for cash and in peril of closure,” it adds.

“Efforts by several community members to obtain seats on the Board of Directors to help redress management and financial problems have been rejected by the board, which instead improperly filed an unsubstantiated $250,000 lien against the Ritz Theatre property in favor of Heath.”

Bondi seeks appointment of a receiver to take possession of the non-profit, “determine all outstanding indebtedness, and to report to the Attorney General’s Office and the court all steps needed to enable the theatre to fulfill its longstanding mission.”

Her office “also is seeking an accounting, as well as temporary and permanent injunctive relief, including relief from the improperly-filed lien, to ensure that the theatre’s mission is and will continue to be met.”

The complaint, filed in Polk County, is below. More information is on the Friends of the Ritz Theatre Facebook page. 

Lawmakers look for agreement in opioid battle

Lawmakers continued to negotiate the terms of opioid legislation Wednesday, with the Senate standing firm in its position that insurance companies should not put obstacles in the way of medication-assisted therapy.

The Senate passed a House opioids bill (HB 21) but tagged on an amendment that includes appropriating $54.5 million for such things as outpatient and residential treatment. It also would ban insurers and HMOs from using prior authorization or “step therapy” or making other requirements as a prerequisite to the use of medication-assisted therapy in treating substance abuse.

Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, said Wednesday night that the bill tackles the state’s growing opioid problem like the public health crisis that it is.

“For men and women who come forward and have an addiction who want help, they want to turn their lives around, they want to go back to work and be with their families … that should be treated as a public health issue, and I think this bill goes a long way toward that,” Negron said.

The original House bill did not have the medication-assisted treatment language, and it remains an issue the two chambers must hammer out before the 2018 Legislative Session ends in the coming days.

The centerpiece of the bill, however, may be a three-day limit on prescriptions for treatment of acute pain. Physicians could prescribe up to seven-day supplies of controlled substances if deemed medically necessary.

The Senate agreed with the House to exempt from the prescription limits cancer patients, people who are terminally ill, palliative care patients and those who suffer from major trauma. The bill also would require physicians or their staff members to check with a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing drugs.

As amended, the bill would earmark $991,000 for improvements to the database, known as the prescription drug monitoring program, so that it can interface with physicians’ offices and electronic health records used by doctors.

The bill, proponents of opioid limits say, will go a long way toward helping the state curb the use of opioids, which are narcotic painkillers that have caused widespread overdoses.

In 2016, heroin caused 952 deaths in Florida, fentanyl caused 1,390 deaths, oxycodone caused 723 deaths, and hydrocodone caused 245 deaths. Those statistics led Gov. Rick Scott in May 2017 to declare a state of emergency.

The $54.5 million in funding is a slight increase from an original Senate proposal of $53 million. Negron said the chambers haven’t finalized the opioid funding and that the amount of money could still increase. That would be good, said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“My thoughts are $53 million is a great start for this year, but we need much more to combat that crisis overall,” she said.

In Tampa, Rick Scott remains noncommittal on signing law to arm teachers

In Tampa Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott continued a statewide tour touting his proposed $500 million to make Florida’s public schools safer in the aftermath of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School two weeks ago.

The Governor’s plan includes putting law enforcement officers in every Florida public school, assembling a “threat-assessment team” that would embed a member of the Department of Children and Families in every local sheriff’s department.

Scott’s recommended team would work with officials from school districts and the Department of Juvenile Justice to prevent people struggling with a mental illness from acquiring a firearm. He is also calling for hiring more mental health counselors and providing additional mental health resources.

Notably, Scott’s plan does not include arming schoolteachers, a controversial proposal that has been a part of school safety packages making way through both the Florida House and Senate.

“I believe our law enforcement ought to do their job, and our teachers oughta teach,” Scott told a pack of reporters Wednesday morning at the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office in east Tampa.

Scott, as he did Tuesday in Miami — and undoubtedly later Wednesday in Jacksonville — would not say what he will do if the school safety bill that passes the Legislature next week and arrives on his desk includes funding for what is being called the “Marshal Program” to train and arm school staff.

“I’ll review the bill, but I believe that law enforcement should be doing public safety, and teachers oughta be teaching.”

Another discrepancy between the Governor and the Legislature is that the House and Senate include a three-day waiting period to purchase military-style semi-automatic rifles.

“With regard to the waiting period, It wouldn’t have changed anything here. I want to do the things that have an actual impact,” Scott said, repeating he is looking to change the law that will have an impact.

The Marshall plan calls for arming teachers in schools if district superintendents or school boards approve of such a policy. Hillsborough County School Superintendent Jeff Eakins says he backs the governor’s stance on the issue, not the Legislature’s.

“I think security and law enforcement should do their jobs and I think our teachers should be doing their jobs,” Eakins said. “No school district should be forced to do that. This should be a discussion locally — school board, law enforcement, we should all be seeing what’s best for the community, and it shouldn’t be jumping to arming our teachers.”

Although a $500 million program with just a week and a half before the legislative session is scheduled to end is a big ask, Scott says that Florida is blessed because the state has a surplus that will allow them to spend so much to harden schools and prevent the mentally ill from getting firearms.

He deferred questions that such funding would require reallocating funds from other discretionary spending.

Scott came up with his plan after consulting with educators, parents and law enforcement officials, such as Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, both of whom were in attendance.

In introducing Scott, Chronister thanked him for “not taking any knee-jerk, emotional actions in light of the Parkland tragedy, but instead developing a common-sense approach keeping our children, our schools, and our community safe.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi said the state will now have a “see something, say something” hotline, website and app for students to anonymously report overheard threats, suicides or bullying.

While such a program may make it easier to report troubling behavior, it was well-reported that various local, state and federal agencies did have advance knowledge the Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was disturbed and threatened to become violent.

“I don’t care what happened in this instance, from now on, it will be given the attention it deserves,” Bondi insisted about the new app/hotline.

When asked why he’s not going after assault weapons or high capacity magazines, Scott said the answer was not to ban specific weapons but specific people from having such weapons. He mentioned Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the Boston Marathon bomber, and terrorists in the U.S. and overseas who have used U-Haul trucks to mow down people on the streets.

“I want to focus on the people who we can track,” Scott said. “There’s evidence what they’re going to do. Let’s focus on them.”

A poll taken since the Parkland shooting shows about 70 percent of Florida residents want more restrictions on guns, and 56 percent do not want to arm teachers, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Pam Bondi: Parkland massacre ‘will be a death penalty case’

Though much of the talk from elected officials and politicians in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Parkland has been of increased mental health screening and “school hardening,” there will be a legal case against Nikolas Cruz who killed 17 people at his old high school.

Cruz made his first court appearance Thursday, and was held without bond. Prosecutors spoke of the premeditated nature of the crimes, and Cruz fleeing the scene.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Pam Bondi asserted on Fox News Monday that she fully expects prosecutors will seek the death penalty in Cruz’ case.

“I’m certain they will be seeking the death penalty,” Bondi said.

“I’m certain that there will be no bond given the 17 deaths. The state will have 45 days to determine whether they seek the death penalty,” Bondi said, citing “aggravators and mitigators.”

Premeditation and calculation are among those aggravators, Bondi said.

“With 17 dead children, walking into a school with these firearms, they will be seeking the death penalty,” Bondi said, describing Cruz as a “monster in this world.”

Federal, state leaders pitch mental health awareness, ‘school hardening’ in wake of Parkland massacre

Less than 24 hours after Nicolas Cruz killed 17 people at the high school that expelled him in Parkland, Florida, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions weighed in, as did Gov. Rick Scott and state leaders.

State leaders vowed to devote resources to “school hardening” and ensuring that mentally ill people don’t have access to guns. The President vowed a renewed focus on mental health and school safety.

Trump, who tweeted on Thursday morning that there needs to be more robust reporting of people who show warning signs to authorities, addressed media from the White House.

“Today we mourn for all of those who lost their lives. We comfort the grieving and the wounded. And we hurt for the entire community of Parkland, Florida, that is now in shock and pain and searching for answers.”

“Our entire nation, with one heavy heart, is praying for the students and their families,” the President said. “We are all joined together as one American family.”

“No child, no teacher should ever have to be in fear in an American school,” Trump added, vowing to visit Parkland, and urging Americans to cling to faith in times of sorrow.

Trump said he was “making plans to visit Parkland to meet with families and local officials and continue coordinating the federal response.”

Trump, addressing America’s “children,” said “you are never alone and never will be.”

Trump suggested that children turn to teachers and faith leaders in times of trouble, and vowed to address the issue of “mental health” and “making our schools safer.”

“We’re making our schools and our children top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we’re making a difference. We must actually make that difference,” the President said.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed sheriffs in Washington, and Parkland was on his mind.

“It cannot be denied that something dangerous and unhealthy is happening,” Sessions said.

“We’ve got to confront the problem, there’s no doubt about it … We at the Department of Justice are going to make this a priority,” Sessions added.

“I think effective enforcement of our gun laws, focusing on criminals and dangerous people, mentally ill people where we have the legal ability to do so, can reduce violence in our communities,” Sessions said. “It’s not good if we’ve got gun laws that say criminals can’t carry guns that never get enforced.”

In between the speeches by the President and the Attorney General, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel promised to be very “animated” in discussing the way forward after this mass shooting, which includes adding police officers.

That way forward will include state laws preventing the mentally ill from buying guns, such as Cruz’s AR-15 that he used to kill 17 people.

Gov. Rick Scott vowed to “make sure this never happens again,” asserting that there would be a “real conversation with state leaders” about “making sure that people with mental illness never touch a gun.”

Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are on board, Scott said.

“The violence has to stop. We can never lose another child in this country to violence in a school,” Scott said.

When asked about gun control, Scott reiterated his contention that “someone who’s mentally ill shouldn’t have access to a gun.”

Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, during the press conference, issued a statement advocating $100 million for “school hardening.”

“I am asking all of my legislative colleagues to support an appropriation of $100 million for mental health screening, counseling and training, as well as the hardening of our or schools in the K-12 budget, which Senator [Kathleen] Passidomo has already included in the Senate education budget. It is imperative that a portion of this allocation goes toward ensuring that we have the necessary number of armed resource officers at our schools across Florida. While currently, we have armed resource officers at a number of our schools coupled with other law enforcement personnel, we must identify where the gaps exist and immediately work to fill them,” Galvano asserted.

The Guardian notes that there have already been eight mass shootings at schools in 2018 that have resulted in injury or death.

Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to continue to help the victims and families, including by compensating them for hospital bills and funeral expenses.

“You have nothing to worry about there,” Bondi said, going on to laud the “teamwork” between herself and Gov. Scott in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting.

“We’re praying for these families. We will continue to pray for these families, and that justice is done for the one that brutally, brutally murdered all of these students.”

Andrew Fay nomination clears Senate panel

Andrew Fay easily and quickly won a Senate panel’s confirmation vote on Tuesday to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee unanimously cleared Fay for full Senate consideration.

Fay

The 34-year-old lawyer and Tampa native had been Special Counsel to Attorney General Pam Bondi and served as her Director of Legislative Affairs, Cabinet Affairs and Public Policy.

Gov. Rick Scott named him to the PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities.

During the hearing, Fay alluded to his youth — “We must be representative of all bodies and generations. I am hopeful that the vision I can bring is different and beneficial” — and to his relative inexperience on energy issues.

He compared himself to a high school football player who carries around a play binder: “Mine hasn’t left my hands yet,” he said, adding, “The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn.”

Fay also acknowledged he had a “nerdy, techy viewpoint” and said his immediate concerns will be power restoration and electric grid security.

State, voting rights group disagree on how to handle clemency process

In response to a federal judge saying that the Florida’s voting rights restoration process is unconstitutional, the state’s legal team said Monday the state’s clemency board should fix its flaws — not the courts.

State Solicitor General Amit Agarwal argued that U.S. District Judge Mark Walker should not issue any corrective orders, saying “there is no reason to upend the state’s constitutional and statutory framework.”

Rather, the Board of Executive Clemency itself should come up with a system that meets constitutional muster.

Fair Election Legal Network, the group that sued the state for running a system that “hinders former felons from truly reentering society,” disagreed.

The national voting rights group said the court should order the state to restore the voting rights of former felons after “any waiting period of a specific duration of time” set forth by the state or the board.

Currently, that waiting period is five years after completing their sentences. Except for those convicted of murder or a sex offenses; they must wait seven years.

The legal teams of both groups filed their briefs with Walker, who had ordered them to submit briefs to find a remedy for the system’s deficiencies.

“An injunction requiring (the state) to affirmatively act to create a new vote-restoration procedure would be inappropriate,” the state argued.

Federal courts, it added, “cannot issue an order that is tantamount to saying ‘act right.’ ”

Scott has helped shape the current voter-restoration system which requires all felons to wait at least five years after they serve their sentences to apply to have their voting rights restored.

The clemency board that oversees a felon’s case consists of Scott and the three members of the Florida Cabinet—Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi and state CFO Jimmy Patronis. The governor, however, does have sole power to reject an application.

It can take years for the board to hear a case and currently the state has a backlog of more than 10,000 cases, which could cost taxpayers $500,000 to fix next year if the Legislature approves it.

The state of Florida is home to about 1.5 million citizens who cannot cast a vote.

As the legal fight continues in court, Floridians will be able to cast their own ballot in November to decide whether ex-felons should have their voting rights automatically restored.

A citizen initiative to add a “Voting Restoration Amendment” to the state constitution needs 60 percent approval. If it passes, the amendment could have wide-ranging political implications in the nation’s largest swing state.

State appeals abortion waiting period

The state is appealing a Leon County circuit judge’s ruling that blocked a 2015 law aimed at requiring women to wait 24 hours before having abortions.

Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office filed a notice late Thursday that it will appeal the Jan. 9 ruling by Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, according to the Leon County courts website. The notice, as is common, does not detail the arguments the state will make to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Lewis’ ruling made permanent a temporary injunction granted by the Florida Supreme Court last year after a Gainesville abortion clinic challenged the law as a violation of privacy rights under the state Constitution. In his 10-page ruling, Lewis said the state failed to show there was a “compelling state interest” for the 24-hour waiting period and didn’t show that it was enacted in the “least restrictive” manner.

“The essential problem is that the language of the act — what’s in it and what’s not — belies the claimed compelling nature of the state interest being advanced, and demonstrates ambivalence, if not outright hostility, to the mandate that the least restrictive measures be utilized to advance that interest,” Lewis wrote.

Pam Bondi says Rick Scott deserves lion’s share of credit for Florida’s economic growth

If Rick Scott does run for the U.S. Senate this year, Florida’s rising economy will provide a critical talking point for his campaign.

But one question might be: how much credit does he deserve?

Well, all of it, at least according to Attorney General and fellow Republican Pam Bondi.

Scott and Bondi, were joined Thursday by Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, where they held a Cabinet meeting at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center Pavillion — the traditional gathering on the opening day of the Florida State Fair.

In a formal address, Cissy Proctor, the executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, explained that Florida ended 2017 on a very positive note.

Nearly 205,000 private sector jobs were created in 2017, Proctor said, making for a total of 1.5 million jobs since Scott took office in January of 2011. Those numbers indicate that Scott more than doubled his “7-7-7” plan — which he campaigned on in 2010 —  when he pledged to add 700,000 jobs in seven years.

In Florida, unemployment continues to drop; currently, it’s at 3.7 percent, down from 5 percent a year ago.

Proctor said more than 185,000 people entered the job market in 2017 in Florida, a growth rate nearly four times the national average. There were 265,000 job openings across the state as of December, with registered nurses topping the list.

The number of jobs has grown by 25 percent since Scott took over, while the national average during the past seven years sits at 15 percent, Proctor said. Florida’s labor force growth rate since 2010 has more than doubled that of the rest of the nation, she added.

Those figures impressed Bondi, who followed up Proctor’s presentation by proclaiming that Scott deserved the lion’s share of the credit for the positive job numbers.

“We say that jobs have grown by 25 percent. That just doesn’t happen,” said Bondi, who was sitting next to Scott. “That happens because this man — every time I talk to him — he’s landing in a different state stealing businesses to bring them to Florida.”

“Governor, you have single-handedly done this for our state,” Bondi continued. “Thank you so much. You will never meet a harder working human being.”

No doubt the sound bite might play well for Scott if (or when) he becomes a candidate for Bill Nelson‘s Senate seat later this year

Nelson’s campaign declined an opportunity to comment.

Not that Scott needs the help.

Long considered one of the most unpopular governors in the nation, Scott’s poll numbers are rising when it counts — as he potentially faces voters in November.

A recent Morning Consult poll found the governor ending last year with a 58 percent approval rating; a University of North Florida survey shows Scott’s approval rating now stands at 63 percent.

Deflecting Bondi’s praise, Scott passed it on to the men and women who run businesses in Florida: “Business owners and people who take risk don’t get appreciated for what they do.”

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