Rick Scott Archives - Page 6 of 224 - Florida Politics

Richard Corcoran wants to meet with Trump administration on refugee resettlement in Florida

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is applauding President Donald Trump‘s executive order temporarily banning refugees from entering the United States.

The Land O’Lakes Republican also wants to work with the administration to improve the transparency of the process, particularly on resettling refugees in Florida.

In a letter sent Monday, Corcoran praised the president’s “bold action” on the issue, while complaining that the current relationship between the state and federal governments over refugees going to Florida, is “unacceptable and an abrogation of our duty to protect the safety of Florida residents.”

“Despite the state’s legitimate concern with security risks — a concern even more compelling in Florida given recent tragedies perpetrated by terrorists — there is no opportunity for Florida to institute more rigorous scrutiny of people coming to our state and receiving our services,” Corcoran wrote.

Trump’s executive order bars entry to refugees from anywhere in the world for 120 days and from Syria indefinitely. It also blocks entry from seven distinct countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. In the original order, green card holders from those seven nations would be banned from re-entering the U.S.

The action has spurred protests around both the country and the world, though administration officials say that the reaction from the media and Democrats have been “hysterical,” pointing out that only about 109 travelers were detained in the first 24 hours out of about 325,000 who typically enter the United States in a day.

In the past year, Corcoran says nearly 700 people from Syria, more than 300 people from Iraq, and almost 200 people from Afghanistan were brought to Florida as part of the refugee program.

However, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement received no information from the Department of Homeland Security or other federal agencies about those refugees, which severely hampered any effort to differentiate between genuine refugees “and persons who pose a threat to Floridians.”

In the fall of 2015, Gov. Rick Scott blasted the Obama administration’s plan to relocate up to 425 Syrian refugees to Florida, complaining about how federal officials would not give him or the FDLE the ability to do background checks on those refugees.

The issue was brought up last week at a committee meeting in the Florida House.

Mark Glass, an intelligence officer with the FDLE, told the members of the Florida House Subcommittee on Children, Families and Seniors that the vetting of refugees from places like Syria and Somalia is compromised because of the possibility of identity theft.

Glass complained that the agency was not allowed to see the screening questions or answers of refugees seeking resettlement.

“Knowing the nature of the questions and details and the responses provided could assist FDLE and other local public safety officials in being able to potentially connect the dots of inconsistencies in statements made by the applicant, especially if the applicant is stating they have family or friends in Florida,” he said.

That was the same committee hearing where the entire Democratic caucus walked out of at one point when Mark Krekorian from the Center for Immigration Studies testified via Skype.

“As you know, the federal government routinely entangles state governments in national policies and programs,” Corcoran said in the letter. “Once established, such programs are operated with minimal opportunities for input or control by state policymakers. We look forward to a robust re-examination of the relationships between states and the federal government under your leadership.”

Lenny Curry backs Donald Trump’s travel ban from terror-linked Muslim countries

Back in 2015, in the wake of a terror attack in Paris, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry stunned some when he came out in favor of restrictions on allowing Syrian refugees to enter the state of Florida.

Curry noted, in letters to Jacksonville’s U.S. Congress delegation, that “at least one of the eight terrorists who conducted the attacks entered Europe with a special passport as a refugee of Syria. In light of this, I am very concerned about the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.”

He joined Florida Gov. Rick Scott in his request of members of Congress “to take any action available through the powers of the United States Congress to prevent federal allocations toward the relocation of Syrian refugees without extensive examination into how this would affect our homeland security.”

This position had been largely forgotten – until Donald Trump issued an executive order barring travel for 90 days from seven majority Muslim countries, including Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and the Sudan.

Additionally, the Trump order barred refugee admissions for 120 days, and imposed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees … thus, fulfilling that ask from the Florida Governor and the Jacksonville Mayor.

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Despite the firestorm surrounding the Trump executive order, which continues to blaze on every cable news network and social media feed, Curry supports the administration.

In a conversation Monday morning, Mayor Curry noted that he had joined the governor back in 2015 in demanding “certainty and safeguards” from the federal government on refugee admissions.

“I continue to believe that’s the case,” Curry said. “When the federal government moves to protect [American citizens], that’s the right move. The Trump administration is trying to protect [Americans] from terrorism.”

While Curry believes that some of the early execution of the executive order, such as barring permanent residents and green card holders from entry, is “problematic,” he also is willing to cut the Trump Administration some slack.

“The intent of the administration is mired,” Curry said, “in the bureaucracy of big federal government.”

Some pundits have suggested that a problem with the executive order was that it circumvented the Congress; for his part, Curry is “not going to get in that process.”

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In a related subject, an organization that Curry is a member of – the United States Conference of Mayors – has made news in January by coming out in opposition to President Trump’s positions on sanctuary cities and a massive overhaul of the Affordable Care Act.

In contrast to his immediate predecessor in office, Alvin Brown, Curry hasn’t been a particularly active conference member.

Brown attended fifteen of the group’s conclaves.

Curry?

“I have not attended any of those conferences,” the mayor said.

Mayor Curry hasn’t studied the group’s positions on sanctuary cities or on Obamacare.

Given the gap between the mayor’s politics and that of the group, meanwhile, Curry intends to “look at that investment.”

The current price tag for membership in the group: upwards of $26,000.

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However, there is a salient reason the mayor hasn’t given much thought to what the U.S. Conference of Mayors has to say.

Curry asserts that his day to day focus is on running the city, including victims of violent crime, saying that what he gets up thinking about – indeed, what wakes him up in the middle of the night sometimes – are situations like that of Aiden McClendon.

A year ago, the 22-month-old toddler was gunned down as he sat in a car on Jacksonville’s Eastside.

Stopping that violent crime – ensuring that such situations don’t happen again – is Curry’s focus.

And that focus informs Curry’s support of an executive order that seems draconian to many, but makes sense to a mayor who embraces public safety as his primary mission.

Rick Scott calls for widespread pay raises for corrections officers

Gov. Rick Scott is looking to give Florida corrections officers a pay raise, including $38 million for the state’s prison system in his proposed budget.

Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald reports that the increase, part of the budget Scott will announce Tuesday, is for “officers up to and including the rank of captain.”

Also, Scott wants to offer a $1, 000 signing bonus to new officers at certain understaffed prisons, and boost pay for officers at prison mental-health units. If approved, that combined program could cost taxpayers about $7.5 million.

Florida’s prison system, one of the most violent in the nation, has been plagued by corruption, reports of mistreatment and brutality, as well as low pay and high turnover staff rates. Over the past decade, employees at corrections facilities received a raise only once, which Klas writes was a one-time bonus for lowest paid employees.

“The governor believes in investments that allow the Florida Department of Corrections to better retain officers and have an experienced workforce,” Scott spokesperson McKinley Lewis told the Herald.

Despite warnings from Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones that low pay had resulted in massive turnover rates at the troubled agency, Klas notes Scott has so far fought the call for corrections employee pay increases, while pushing for more than $1 billion in tax cuts. For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Scott is looking for another $618 million in tax cuts.

In an audit of the state prison system, conducted in 2015 for the Legislature, turnover rates in state prisons increase by nearly half from 2009-2015, leaving corrections staff with fewer than three years’ experience on average. Klas notes the audit found that “at five of the ten largest Florida prisons, only half of staff members had more than two years of work experience.” Inmate deaths in Florida prisons have also risen every year, exacerbated by “chronic understaffing and lack of experience.”

Scott’s plan would put salaries for a new corrections officers to $33,500 – up 8.5 percent from $30,926 to $33,500. Sergeants, lieutenants and captains would receive a 10 percent pay increase. Probation officers would also get a raise.

Rick Scott to roll out his spending plan

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is announcing his annual budget recommendations next week.

Scott plans to release details of his spending plan on Tuesday during the annual legislative planning session hosted by The Associated Press.

The Florida Legislature will consider Scott’s budget request during the session that starts in March.

The Republican governor has already outlined some recommendations. Scott this week called on legislators to slash taxes by $618 million this year.

Legislators usually use the governor’s budget recommendations as the starting point.

But this year legislators appear to be on a collision course because of recent projections showing that Florida could have a budget shortfall in two to three years. House Speaker Richard Corcoran says because of that he wants to cut the budget by at least $1 billion.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Rick Scott: Obamacare expanded the welfare state

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has asserted that he is helping President Donald Trump work on a replacement for “Obamacare,” made his feelings known about the Affordable Care Act again on Friday.

In an editorial on CNN‘s website, Scott made a number of points.

Among them, that the Affordable Care Act was nothing more than an expansion of the welfare state, and an usurpation of state’s rights when it comes to handling Medicaid.

“With Obamacare,” Scott writes, “President Obama enacted a massive expansion of the welfare state. And, not surprisingly, Obamacare has resulted in widespread increases in premiums and costs are expected to continue increasing.”

Scott’s preferred option — and likely the one the Trump administration will land on — block grants to the states for low-income health care.

“States can do a far better job administering the Medicaid program than the federal government can. If Florida is given the flexibility to run our own Medicaid program, we will be more efficient and less wasteful than the federal government,” Scott notes.

“Liberal Democrats,” asserts Gov. Scott, “have a game plan for America: everything for free, provided by the government, paid for with your tax dollars. There is a name for this approach, and it is called socialism. President Obama gave it a try, and in the process he proved what we already knew — it does not work.”

“Government assistance must be the last resort,” Scott adds, “not the first stop. This is no time for Republicans to go wobbly or get weak in the knees about repealing Obamacare. If we refuse to roll back the welfare state, what real purpose do we serve?”

With many people expecting Scott, termed out next year, to challenge Democrat Bill Nelson for his Senate seat, an oped like this serves multiple purposes.

It reminds national conservatives that, when it came to Medicaid expansion, the governor fought Washington and won.

It allows the governor to frame the current debate around what he has accomplished in Florida.

And, most importantly, it provides a framework for what might come out of Washington this year regarding reform of the current health care schematic.

Expect more op-eds like this in the weeks ahead.

Rick Scott authorizes $15.8 million for Northeast Florida beach restoration

On Friday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott invoked the ongoing state of emergency in the wake of Hurricane Matthew to earmark $15.8 million for beach restoration in some Northeast Florida counties.

St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia and Brevard Counties will benefit from the funds. Duval and Nassau Counties will not.

The allocation prioritizes beach and dune restoration in areas where property or public works, such as roads, are threatened.

The money, Scott said Friday, is to “expedite emergency restoration projects in order to repair our beaches and ensure beachfront roadways and buildings are prepared for any potential future storms.”

A worry among some Northeast Florida legislators: that the eroded beaches would be impacted by the Nor’easters their part of the state sees.

This allocation helps to stem the worst of that, at least in areas where property interests are imperiled.

Beyond this allocation, more money will be earmarked for this process in Gov. Scott’s new budget, which will “also include the remaining $61.2 million to fulfill the state’s share of needed restoration, for a total of $77 million, based on the latest hurricane damage assessment from both Hurricanes Matthew and Hermine,” claims a release from his office.

Capitol Reax: Tax cuts, certificates of need, whiskey and Wheaties, fracking

Gov. Rick Scott proposed $618 million in tax cuts this week, which included four back to school holidays and reducing the commercial lease tax.

“Governor Scott’s ‘Fighting for Florida’s Future’ tax package includes a number of cuts which will significantly support Florida’s retailers, including a reduction in the business rent tax, cutting the business tax and including an expanded back-to-school sales tax holiday among others. FRF is excited about what the Governor’s tax cut package will mean for growing Sunshine State businesses, creating new jobs for Florida families and ensuring our state remains competitive.” – Randy Miller, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.

 “We know from talking to job creators across the state and the nation that the tax on commercial leases puts Florida at a competitive disadvantage. Governor Scott has demonstrated an incredible commitment to doing everything possible to make it easier for businesses to succeed, and these recommended tax cuts are critical to ensuring continued economic growth. NFIB is proud to fully support this proposal and we look forward to the Legislature cutting $618 million in taxes this year.” – Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“Every step we take to make Florida more business-friendly means more job creators choosing to move to and reinvest in our state. Governor Scott’s recommended $618 million tax cut package will help businesses large and small invest more in creating jobs for our families and will help ensure Florida’s economy will continue to grow well into the future. We are fighting to make our state the best place for job creators and families to succeed and the Florida Chamber of Commerce will continue to work with Governor Scott and the Legislature this year to support this tax cut package.” – David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce

“Governor Scott’s proposed $618 million tax cut package truly fights for both job creators and families across the state. Over the past few years, we have seen the exciting impact tax cuts have had on helping businesses move to and grow in our state, as well as the importance of helping Floridians keep more of their hard-earned money. In order to continue to help our economy grow, we must remain committed to lowering the cost of doing business, and reducing the business rent tax will surely help us meet that goal. AIF is proud to join Governor Scott in fighting for Florida’s future by supporting the passage of $618 million in tax cuts.” – Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida.

Republican Sen. Dana Young filed legislation aimed to ban hydraulic fracking in Florida this week. The bill comes after years of failed attempts to ban the controversial technique by Florida Democrats.

“Our industry has a long history of providing environmental and economic benefits. The United States is the leading producer of oil, natural gas and refined product in the world, and the decades-old technique of hydraulic fracturing has led to lower energy costs for consumers and improvements in the environment. Senator Dana Young’s proposed ban could undermine the benefits that Florida families and consumers are seeing today. “The technology has been proven safe, and Florida is realizing the economic and environmental benefits of its use. Thanks in part to the increased use of domestic natural gas, ozone concentrations in the air have dropped by 17 percent since 2000, all of which makes the United States not just an energy superpower, but also a leader in reducing global emissions. Let’s not move backwards when the gains of energy security are important for Florida families.” – David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council.

“Florida Conservation Voters applauds Senator Dana Young for sponsoring a ban on the dangerous process of fracking for oil and gas (SB 442). Fracking poses too big a risk for the millions of Florida families and visitors who rely on our groundwater for safe, clean drinking water. We’re pleased to see that Senator Young’s bill addresses both hydraulic fracturing, which breaks rock formations to extract fossil fuels and acidizing, which dissolves them. We look forward to working with Sen. Young throughout the 2017 Legislative Session as we work to ban fracking in Florida once and for all.” – Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters

Gov. Scott this week called on state officials to repeal the state’s certificate of need program.

“Repealing certificate of need laws is long overdue. Floridians’ access to quality care has been hampered by this burdensome restriction that has remained in place due to special interests’ focus on profits over patient outcomes. Repealing CON laws will lead to lowering health care costs and expending access to the care our Floridians deserve.” – Chris Hudson, state director, Americans for Prosperity-Florida

The Florida House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee used its meeting this week to hold a panel discussion on workers’ compensation.

“Insurers appreciate the subcommittee panel discussion on the current state of the Florida workers’ compensation system. PCI and our members believe the current Florida workers’ compensation system provides essential benefits to injured workers in a timely, efficient and economically sound manner, and the wage-replacement benefit system balances the interests of employees and employers. We continue to support the 2003 Florida workers’ compensation reforms that were put in place to protect the interests of employees, as well as help control costs for business owners.

“Workers’ compensation insurers are dedicated to fostering a healthy market for workers’ compensation that accommodates employee and employer needs. If you allow frivolous lawsuits with high dispute resolution costs to disrupt the system, it can be detrimental to the stabilization of the marketplace. It’s important to continue to provide quality care benefits to injured workers at a reasonable cost.

“We encourage lawmakers to work toward a solution that protects workers, while fostering a healthy Florida marketplace so the burden of workers’ compensation costs don’t fall on employers and employees.” – Logan McFaddin, regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed a bill to that would bring down the so-called liquor wall and repeal a Prohibition-era law.

“Today members of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee demonstrated their support for common sense, pro-business policies by passing Senate Bill 106, which repeals the Prohibition-era Alcohol Separation Law which requires distilled spirits to be sold separately from beer, wine and groceries. On behalf of Floridians for Fair Business Practices, we applaud their decision.

We commend bill sponsors Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores and Representative Bryan Avila for their diligent efforts to tear down barriers to business growth and expansion. This antiquated law does not demonstrate any benefits to Florida consumers and retailers, and its repeal would mirror society’s desire for convenience in a changing marketplace.  Our coalition is pleased to continue discussing the benefits of passing a repeal to the outdated law with additional committees as this bill is considered in the legislature.” – Richard Turner, general counsel and vice president of government relations of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and a member of the Floridians for Fair Business Practices coalition.

Sen. Rob Bradley filed a bill to bond money backed with Amendment 1 dollars to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee, a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron.

“We thank Senator Bradley for recognizing that a water crisis anywhere in Florida is a water crisis and filing this important legislation. Coastal communities were under a state of emergency for 242 days in 2016 as a result of Lake Okeechobee discharges. The creation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan nearly two decades ago recognized the great need for a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee in the Everglades Agricultural Area in order to reduce the harmful discharges to the estuaries and to preserve water for when it’s desperately needed during the dry seasons. … Senator Bradley’s filing of SB 10 today moves us closer to having this critical water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that will be cost-matched by the federal government, and we applaud him for taking action to respond to Florida’s water crisis this legislative session.” – Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.

“Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) has shown true leadership for Florida’s coastal communities and the Everglades by filing Senate Bill 10 today. The tragedies facing Florida’s coastal estuaries in 2016 were devastating to local economies and the environment. Floridians are hungry for this type of bold action to save Florida’s Everglades. After hearing from experts about water storage solutions, Sen. Bradley’s actions show that a ‘wait and see’ approach for water storage south of Lake Okeechobee is not acceptable. Audubon looks forward to working with the Florida Senate and House of Representatives to pass SB10.” — Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida’s.

 

Bill Galvano files “spill bill” strengthening notification requirements

Last September, Governor Rick Scott ordered new public notification rules and legislation to ensure the public is kept informed of incidents of pollution that may cause a threat to public health and to Florida’s air and water resources. He made that announcement following the sewage spill in St. Petersburg and Mosaic’s sinkhole in Mulberry the sent toxins in the drinking-water supply.

However, a judge threw out the order in late December, saying that such a law must come from the Legislature. Hence the announcement today of SB 532 from Manatee County GOP state Senator Bill Galvano, which would require companies to notify the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the release of any dangerous substance within 24 hours of discovery, and DEP must then publish a public notice within 24 hours. Orlando Democrat Linda Stewart is a co-sponsor on the bill.

“The people of Florida deserve to know if our state’s drinking water has been threatened by potentially dangerous pollutants,” Galvano said in a statement. “Requiring the public to be notified quickly about potential contaminants will give them peace of mind that they won’t unwittingly be drinking water that isn’t safe. SB 532, is designed to protect Floridians from this not-so-clear but very present danger.”

The legislation also requires DEP to develop and publish a list of substances that “pose a substantial risk to public health, safety or welfare.” If any company fails to notify DEP about an incident regarding one of the published substances, it could face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day.

In September it was revealed that it took three weeks for area residents near Mosaic’s 1,600-acre New Wales processing plan to learn of the massive sinkhole that the spill created, outraging the local citizenry.

In St. Petersburg, city officials delayed for several days in announcing the tens of of millions of gallons of sewage had been released from the city’s sewage system into Tampa Bay after Hurricane Hermine.

Florida Democrats walk out of committee discussing refugees resettlement

Members of the Florida House Subcommittee on Children, Families and Seniors heard from five different speakers on Thursday regarding the process by which refugees are resettled in Florida.

However, Democrats on the committee only heard from four, as they walked out en masse in disapproval to hear from Mark Krekorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

“To be blunt, the presenter who is speaking, Mark Krekorian is a racist, and his organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, is a hate group,” said Fort Lauderdale Democrat Bobby DuBose in a press conference held outside the committee hearing (you can watch the video here).

The walkout wasn’t surprising, after House Minority Leader Janet Cruz wrote to House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Wednesday, calling on him to remove Krekorian from speaking to the committee, because he and his organization “have a long history of inflammatory racial rhetoric which is offensive not just to the Members of the Democratic Caucus, but all Floridians.”

After the walkout, Cruz said “he mainstreaming of hate speech as a part of political and policy discussions is a trend that must be stopped.”

The walkout was obviously noted by Republicans on the committee.

“I learned along time ago in relationships that you have to listen, and you have to communicate,” said Dover Republican Ross Spano. “I just find it surprising that you would walk out and refuse to listen.”

Krekorian told the Republicans who watched his presentation via Skype that he believes the State Dept. when they say that the incoming refugees are subject to intensive scrutiny, but he says the problem is that the vetting process is dependent on checking data bases which do not contain quality data. He said that the information trail is dry on people in war torn nations like Syria or Somalia.

He said that more than 90 percent of Syrian refugees who apply to be resettled are allowed into the U.S., questioning how rigorous is the vetting when such a high propensity of those vetting are accepted.

More provocatively, he said it was “morally indefensible” to resettle refugees in the west, saying that it costs twelve times more to do that than to care for them closer to their country where they initially found refuge.

The issue of resettling Syrian refugees in Florida has been a hot topic for Rick Scott and other Republicans in the Legislator for going back to late in 2015, when he joined more than 30 other governors around the nation in telling the Obama administration that it was time for a pause in bringing any more Syrian refugees to the U.S.

Mark Glass, an intelligence officer with the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, told the committee that the vetting of refugees from places like Syria and Somalia is compromised because of the possibility of identity theft.

Another gap he said is that currently the FDLE is not allowed to see the screening questions or answers of resettled refugees. “Knowing the nature of the questions and details and the responses provided could assist FDLE and other local public safety officials in being able to potentially connect the dots of inconsistencies in statements made by the applicant, especially if the applicant is stating they have family or friends in Florida,” he said.

He acknowledged that he is currently not receiving any information from the federal government from these refugees.

Also addressing the committee was Chris Card of Lutheran Services Florida, the organization that works with helping the refugees assimilate into the Florida. He was asked if he received any information about “problematic refugees” coming into Florida. He said he did not get that specific information, but said he knows that individuals with a criminal history aren’t allowed to resettle in the U.S.

After hearing testimony for two hours, Democrats asked why there was even a need to discuss the situation.

“Whatever we have in place now right now is working,” said Miami-Dade County Democrat Kionne McGhee. “There has not been a single refugee resettlement person involved in a terrorist attack in Florida.”

Volusia County Republican David Santiago has filed legislation (HB 427) that would require the state’s withdrawal from the federal refugee program.

Rick Scott cannot condone Cuba’s ‘oppressive behavior.’ What about China’s?

Gov. Rick Scott threatened Florida ports with sanctions if they do business with Cuba. He underscored it with a pair of tweets, the first in Spanish: “No podemos tolerar una dictadura brutal en Cuba.”

Translation: We cannot tolerate a brutal dictatorship in Cuba.

In another tweet, channeling his inner Donald Trump, Gov. Scott noted, “We cannot condone Raul Castro’s oppressive behavior. Serious security/human rights concerns.”

He has vowed to withhold state money from ports ink trade agreements with that island nation.

Well, OK. Let’s think this through. If Cuba is off limits, I guess China should be too.

According to a 2016 report by Human Rights Watch: “China remains an authoritarian state, one that systematically curtails a wide range of fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion … the trend for human rights under President Xi Jinping continued in a decidedly negative direction.”

Well, shucks. That sounds suspiciously like, to use the governor’s words, “serious security/human rights concerns.”

A report from Enterprise Florida shows our state did more than $28 billion (with a B) in merchandise trade with that totalitarian nation from 2013-15. The Miami Herald reported that China ranks behind only Brazil and Colombia as trading partners with South Florida.

But, if we’re going to make a stand …

We also sent about $2 billion in exports to Saudi Arabia from 2013-15. Of that nation, Human Rights Watch notes: “Detainees, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest. Judges routinely sentence defendants to floggings of hundreds of lashes.”

That sounds, oh … what’s the word I’m looking for?

Brutal.

Thanks, governor.

I think we know what’s going on here. Republicans from Washington to Tallahassee have used Cuba as a political piñata for decades. They stepped it up after President Obama made several moves toward normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has been particularly outspoken on that subject, but after his poodle-like yapping against the business relationship between incoming secretary of state Rex Tillerson has with Russia didn’t result in a vote against his confirmation, we can tune that out.

By the way, Florida has a lot of trade with Russia too.

It is assumed Scott has his eye on Bill Nelson’s Senate seat in 2018, and the game plan for any serious GOP candidate involves cutting into Democrats’ traditional support in south Florida by pandering to those who hate the Castro family.

Scott’s actions look to me like a ready-made campaign ad for future ambitions. Meanwhile, Cuba will just keep doing business with the rest of the world. Nothing changes.

 

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