Rick Scott Archives - Page 7 of 258 - Florida Politics

Rick Scott signs bill loosening regulations on Florida cosmetic manufacturers

A bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott Friday would loosen regulations on more than 100 Florida cosmetic manufacturers.

CS/HB 211 removes the requirements for companies to register cosmetic products they manufacture or repackage. The bill conforms by removing registration and renewal requirements for cosmetic products, including the requirements to give registration applications, product labels, and registration and renewal fees. It will allow cosmetic manufacturers in Florida to sell cosmetics without registering such products.

Florida, along with Louisiana and Nevada, were the only states to require cosmetic registration. The law also eliminates the fee to register cosmetics.

Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida reports that as of Fiscal Year 2016, the state had 13,024 active cosmetic product registrations with the Division of Drugs, Devices, and Cosmetics of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Cosmetic manufacturers that are physically located in Florida will still need to have an active cosmetic manufacturer permit.

Rick Scott OKs two memorials for Dozier School abuse deaths, rebury victims

Gov. Rick Scott signed a new law Friday allowing for the creation of memorials for boys who died from abuse at the now-closed Dozier School for Boys as well as abuse survivors.

The bill sets aside $1.2 million to build two memorials regarding the boys who lived and died at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

Nearly 100 boys died between 1900 and 1973 at the school located near Marianna, some 60 miles west of Tallahassee.

The bill authorizes the creation of a memorial at the state Capitol and one near Marianna. It also calls for reburying victims of a 1914 fire at the school cemetery in Marianna, and rebury other remains in Tallahassee.

The legislation would also allow portions of the shuttered campus to be turned over to Jackson County.

“Today’s signing, coupled with an official apology led by the House earlier this year, will hopefully bring some closure and healing to all those affected directly or indirectly by the atrocities that occurred at the Arthur Dozier School for Boys,” said House Speaker Richard Corcoran. “I thank Governor Scott for signing this legislation; I thank the many House and Senate Members who passionately took up this cause, and look forward to seeing the construction of a memorial that is a tribute to those lost and a testament to the strength of those who never gave up the fight.”

 

Kathy Castor: Investigations on Russia, Trump administration are ‘cloud’ over D.C.

While there are many things both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill want to accomplish, Kathy Castor laments the business of Congress has slowed considerably by what she calls a “cloud” over the Trump administration’s possible collusion with Russia during last year’s election.

“What an atmosphere it is,” the Tampa Democratic congresswoman said in opening remarks at the Oxford Exchange Friday morning.

“I hope we can remove this cloud. The economy is better. People are generally hopeful, they want America to be a world leader, and this cloud has got to go away, because I think that everything that we have going for us, as long as that cloud remains over the White House in Washington. We’re not able to reach our full potential.”

For months, Castor had been among Congressional Democrats calling for an independent commission to investigate allegations about members of the Trump administration and the Russian government. She called the recent Justice Department appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to investigate the situation a positive development.

“I think that broke the fever a little bit,” she said, adding that the constant news revelations about Trump and the Russians have “stalled a lot of the business going on in the Congress.”

“There have been some things going on,” she acknowledged, “but the pace of lawmaking is much slower than I’ve seen over the past ten years.”

The Tampa Representative touched on just a few of those items not being covered in the media that she worries about, such as the president’s signing of a Congressional resolution repealing rules that would have required internet service providers to get customer permission to collect, use and sell information about one’s online habits.

Castor says the role of Congress should now be to do a “broader dive” into recommendations on how to prevent the interference of foreign governments into our elections. In March, former FBI Director James Comey told a congressional panel the FBI was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination.

No member of Congress has been more active in promoting relations between Cuba and the U.S. than Castor, who represents one of the largest Cuban-American communities in the U.S. She admitted that recent reports of the Trump administration being ready to roll back some of the major pieces of the Obama administration’s opening with Cuba and reinstating limits on travel and commerce, citing human rights abuses by the Castro government as justification for a more punitive approach.

“I’ve been an optimist on these until the last few days,” she confessed, charging Trump with being on a path “just to flex his muscles, notwithstanding logic and facts.”

“I think we are somewhat in risk of President Trump in his pledge to change Cuban policy and that would be a real shame for the families in this community and families across the country,” she added.

Castor’s appearance at the weekly “Cafe Con Tampa” meeting was, in essence, a regular town-hall meeting. It was the type of event she has eschewed in recent years, opting for events where she invites the public to meetings, meeting up on a one-on-one basis.

Traditional town hall meetings haven’t been scheduled very often after an explosive encounter with Tea Party activists during the discussions about the Affordable Care Act back in 2009.

All of the questions were of a friendly nature, including a softball from an official with the Hillsborough County School Board who asked her opinion of HB 7069, a charter-school-friendly $419 million school bill in the Florida Legislature that she had already vocally opposed. Public education officials and organizations vehemently opposed the legislation.

“What the Florida Legislature has been doing to our public schools is criminal, and we have got to stand up and fight for it,” she said, adding that it wasn’t too late to have people contact Gov. Rick Scott to veto the bill.

Florida taxpayers, entrepreneurs winners in new budget deal, says Americans for Prosperity

Florida taxpayers will be the true winners next week as lawmakers return to Tallahassee for a special session on economic incentives and education funding in the state’s budget, says Americans for Prosperity-Florida.

The conservative government watchdog group is applauding Friday’s announcement by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate President Joe Negron, and Gov. Rick Scott that they will be meeting for a Special Session to reconcile the state’s nearly $84 billion budget.

As reported by FloridaPolitics.com, Scott called on the Legislature to provide an additional $215 million to K-12 public education, which would increase per student funding by $100. establish an $85 million “Florida Job growth fund” to promote public infrastructure and individual job training. That $85 million price tag was the same as the request Scott made for Enterprise Florida.

The governor also seeks to pass legislation setting aside $76 million for VISIT Florida — the state’s tourism arm — which includes comprehensive transparency and accountability measures.

AFP-FL has long denounced Florida’s “corporate welfare handouts” through incentive programs such as VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida.

AFP-FL state director Chris Hudson praised the development in a statement:

“While we wait to see the details in writing, we’re cautiously optimist about the move to establish the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. This new plan will help all jobs creators, not just the well-connected, looking to come to Florida or those investing to expand their homegrown businesses. This is how economic development should have always existed in the state. This is a model for the rest of the country. We are excited that at least for now the war for incentives is over.”

“This is a huge win for taxpayers and a huge win for our organization and the activists that drove the discussion.”

The 2017 Special Legislative Session will be June 7-9.

 

Florida Democrats accuses Rick Scott of ‘backroom politics at its worst’ over special session

Florida Democrats are hitting Gov. Rick Scott and Republican leadership over a budget deal announced Friday.

In a statement, Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said the budget deal fails the state’s working families, while funneling money to Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

“Not only does this budget deal funnel millions to private for-profit charter schools, remove oversight from local school boards, and short-change Florida’s children–it was negotiated in secret, and the end result will bring millions to Scott and Corcoran’s corporate benefactors,” she said in a statement. “Rick Scott and Richard Corcoran represent dirty, backroom politics at its worst, and this secret budget fails Florida’s working families.”

Scott, Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron announced Friday morning lawmakers will convene in a special session from June 7 to June 9 to tackle several issues relating to the budget.

The announcement coincided with news that Scott signed the budget 2017-18 budget, vetoing $410 million in legislative projects. Scott vetoed the Florida Educational Finance Program, which funds K-12 public education, and a bill that, among other things, slashed funding for Visit Florida Funding by 60 percent.

A full list of vetoes is expected to be released later today, according to the Governor’s Office.

The governor is calling on the Legislature to provide an additional $215 million to K-12 public education, which would increase per student funding by $100; establish the Florida Job Growth Fund to promote public infrastructure and individual job training and fund it at $85 million, the same amount he requested for incentive programs for Enterprise Florida; and pass legislation that sets aside $76 million for Visit Florida and includes comprehensive transparency and accountability measures for the organization.

In return for reaching a compromise on his top priorities, the governor is expected to sign a wide-sweeping education bill (HB 7069), a top priority for Corcoran, and a higher education bill (SB 374), a top priority for Negron.

In a separate statement, House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa called the Special Session “a farce being inflicted upon the people of Florida.”

“To pretend this newest backroom deal will help public education in our state is laughable,” she said. “That politicians in positions of leadership are willing to sell out our public schools by approving the creation of a $140 million slush fund for private charter school operators in exchange for an $85 million slush fund for corporate welfare is the epitome of everything that people despise about politics.

“Welcome to the swamp.”

New hurricane advisories will give deadlines for storm prep

Some coastal residents always put off emergency preparations until storm clouds loom on the horizon. The National Hurricane Center is going to try giving those people a deadline this year, issuing experimental advisories showing when tropical-storm force winds may hit particular communities to help them understand when it’s too late to put up storm shutters or evacuate.

The forecasters’ advisories will be fueled by more data than ever, thanks to new weather satellites and an expanded network of underwater gliders.

Dan Brown with the U.S. National Hurricane Center discusses many of the improvements that have been made to hurricane forecasting.

On the official start of hurricane season Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at the Miami center to encourage residents to prepare and heed warnings.

NEW ADVISORY

To help people understand when storm preparations should be completed, the hurricane center will experiment with advisories showing the times when sustained tropical-storm-force winds are estimated to hit land. If a tropical disturbance nears shore, forecasters also could post advisories or warnings before it develops into a tropical depression or named storm.

Florida’s emergency management director, Bryan Koon, said the new advisories could help validate evacuation orders for people who complain about “hype” around approaching storms.

In this 2011 file photo, Home Depot load up emergency generators for Virginia Beach residents in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

“We can say, ‘Listen, this is when things are going to get bad in your area,’” Koon said. “We can also use that to say, ’A few hours ahead of that, stores are going to close, roads are going to get jam-packed with people, we might have to shut down power substations.”

Storm surge watches and warnings will be issued this year when U.S. coastlines are at risk for life-threatening flooding.

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SHRINKING CONE

The “uncertainty cone” showing a storm’s projected path shrinks again this year, with continued improvements in track forecasts. It’s still the best-known advisory released by the hurricane center, but forecasters continue to emphasize individual hazards away from the center of a storm.

On his last day as hurricane center director before returning to The Weather Channel, Rick Knabb said better data and better computer models help create a narrower cone. But that can give a false sense of security to areas outside the cone.

On his last day as hurricane center director before returning to The Weather Channel, National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb said better data and better computer models help create in narrower cone.

“Hurricane watches and warnings can extend well outside the cone. In fact, the hurricane itself can be much larger than the width of the cone,” Knabb said. “So clearly a hurricane is not just a point on the map.”

Forecasters will add an outline of a storm’s wind field to the graphic to help people see hurricane impacts beyond the cone, Knabb said.

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INTENSITY FORECASTS

Predicting the intensity of a storm remains a challenge. Apart from improving public communications about storm hazards, the hurricane center also has been working to improve its forecasts predicting when and how much a storm will strengthen.

In this 2011 file photo, people talk at a sandbagged entrance of the Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant, which is situated next to the Schuylkill river, as the establishment prepares for Hurricane Irene in Philadelphia.

It’s difficult to measure what’s happening around a hurricane’s eye — where the strongest winds swirl — or how it interacts with the ocean and the atmosphere, and that affects the accuracy of storm intensity forecasts, said Dan Brown, a senior hurricane specialist at the hurricane center in Miami.

“It’s a combination of everything, but oftentimes, it’s understanding what the structure of the storm is and getting that right when the computer models are first run,” Brown said.

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FORECASTING TECHNOLOGY

More and better data will be streaming into those models this year, which forecasters hope will help improve their predictions for a hurricane’s intensity.

NASA launched eight mini-satellites in December to measure surface winds deep in the hearts of hurricanes. Unlike other weather satellites, the $157 million Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System can give scientists a clear look into a hurricane’s eye even through walls of clouds and rain.

Forecasters said the $1 billion GOES-16 weather satellite, launched in November, is as significant an upgrade as switching to high-definition television, with more detailed images and more channels looking at storms.

NOAA again will launch four underwater sea gliders from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to collect ocean data, and this summer the agency will expand its data pool by collaborating with universities and research institutions.

To keep up with higher resolution forecast models, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has upgraded the Doppler radar on its hurricane hunter aircraft to give scientists a more detailed look at hurricane winds.

NOAA again will launch four underwater gliders from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to collect ocean data, and this summer the agency will expand its data pool by collaborating with universities and research institutions in the U.S. and Bermuda that have up to 20 their own gliders in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

Gustavo Goni, director of the physical oceanography division at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, said glider data has helped improve the models’ understanding of the ocean. He added that “we want to put all these efforts together to make a better analysis.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Joe Henderson: Sunshine law should remind leaders that people of Florida are citizens, not serfs

The irony of the state Constitutional Revision Commission trying to avoid sunshine laws is almost too rich to describe.

If allowed to happen, that would be a dark day indeed.

But that’s exactly what CRC Chair Carlos Beruff is proposing, even as the commission continues a series of town hall meetings designed to take public input into the process.

Beruff, who ran a bare-knuckles campaign for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. Senate race but ultimately crashed when Marco Rubio decided to get back in the game, proposes to allow two or more members to discuss the commission’s official business in private.

Not only that, Beruff — appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to chair the committee — is pushing for authority to be the sole decision-maker about what measures the 37-member board puts on the ballot in 2018.

That would gut a requirement that a supermajority of 22 members approves all ballot initiatives.

The commission has been frosty to his proposals.

“What is called for is a presider — not a decider,” Commission member and former Senate President Don Gaetz told the Miami Herald.

So, let’s review: Florida has been noted for its landmark Sunshine Law that requires all government and related meetings to be open and with adequate advance public notice. The head of the Constitutional Revision Commission wants to ignore a bedrock principle of Florida law.

Good start, eh?

It’s worth noting that Beruff was a controversial choice to lead the commission.

A little over a year ago, he drew wide criticism last year for remarks at St. John’s County Republican Executive Committee, where he said of President Barack Obama: “Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call president — because he’s an animal, OK? … has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military under not one, not two, but three secretaries of defenses.”

That doesn’t exactly have the ring of someone interested in building consensus.

Beruff’s current ploy is just continuing an assault on openness that has been taking place for years. There are more than 1,000 exemptions to the law as legislators find increasingly inventive ways to avoid the annoying public scrutiny.

Three members of the South Florida Water Management District were criticized for discussing official business in Facebook chats. Barbara Petersen, head of the nonprofit First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee, told TCPalm.com “this definitely appears to be a violation.”

Yes, it’s much easier to govern in secret, but that’s not how we do it here. You can’t just work things out in private and then inform the masses (maybe) what you have planned for them before you break for lunch. The people of Florida are citizens, not serfs. They have a right to know how decisions affecting their lives are being made. They have a right for input.

What part of that escapes Carlos Beruff?

Then again, why should anyone be surprised? He doesn’t seem like someone much interested in what other people think.

Aramis Ayala defends death penalty position, asserts budget cut will hit key programs

Orlando’s reform-pledging yet controversial State Attorney Aramis Ayala defended her anti-death penalty position as “evidence based” and charged that the Florida Legislature’s $1.3 million cut to her budget will hamper anti-human trafficking and domestic violence prosecutions.

In a feature published Thursday morning by Orlando-Rising.com, a sister website to FloridaPolitics.com, the rookie state attorney representing Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit also reiterated her earlier statements that she has had nothing to do with Democratic political rainmaker George Soros, who ran an independent campaign on her behalf last summer; and that she believes Gov. Rick Scott reassigned 23 first-degree murder cases from her “solely based on his own political beliefs.”

“I know the ‘death penalty’ is extremely controversial and evokes emotion from both people who are for and against it. As I stated on steps of Orange County Courthouse when I made my announcement, what is NOT controversial is the evidence that led me to my decision,” Ayala stated in a written interview with Orlando-Rising.com, part of the ongoing “OR Conversations” weekly feature, highlighting the thoughts and views of newsmakers.

The feature, which involved Ayala providing written responses to written questions, marks the most comprehensive public statements Ayala has made since her March 16 announcement that she had decided that Florida’s capital punishment laws are unjust to all, and she would not pursue them. That announcement had led to a firestorm of political, social, legislative, and legal responses, some of which she told Orlando-Rising.com she anticipated, and some of which she did not.

“What I did not anticipate is the governor overstepping his authority by inserting himself in a prosecutorial decision and removing 23 cases from my office,” Ayala stated. “I believe what Gov. Scott has done is an attack on the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution, the rule of law, the separation of powers and our criminal justice system. Scott’s move is unprecedented and solely based on his own political beliefs.”

She and the governor are locked in litigation battles, in the Florida Supreme Court, and in U.S. District Court, over her decision to not seek death penalties, and his subsequent decision to reassign her first-degree murder cases to other state attorneys.

“I did not anticipate the Legislature cutting my office budget $1.3 million dollars and eliminating 21 positions from my office. This move will severely impact this agency’s ability to effectively prosecute crimes, threaten public safety and ultimately have an economic impact on the central Florida community.

“I also did not anticipate racist responses including someone sending a noose to my office because they disagree with how my administration will handle death penalty cases,” added Ayala, the first African American known to be elected to the position of state attorney anywhere in Florida, in history.

Ayala went into great detail on how she fears the $1.3 million cut in her 2018 budget could affect her office’s ability to prosecute human trafficking and domestic violence cases, two special programs she campaigned for, the first of which had received a special $1.4 million appropriation in 2017. Her response essentially included position statements she provided the Florida Legislature. For the sake of their newsworthiness, Orlando-Rising.com decided to publish them in their entirety, even though they went beyond the normal bounds of brevity the OR Conversations feature requests of its newsmaker subjects.

The Florida Legislature had argued that the $1.3 million should and will follow the reassigned first-degree murder cases to the receiving state attorney, which, in the case of the currently-reassigned 23 cases, is Brad King of Florida’s 5th Judicial Circuit. But Ayala challenged that logic, arguing that money already automatically follows reassigned cases, so that what the legislature did was essentially charge her for those cases twice.

“My office will also be footing the bill for every single case Scott removed from this office,” she stated. “Florida Statute 27.15 requires all expenses and costs incurred by any gubernatorial re-assignment to be paid for by the circuit receiving the assistance. As such, the 9th Circuit will pay any and all costs and expenses as required by law from its existing budget appropriation.

“The impact of cutting $1.3 million and eliminating 21 positions will have a devastating effect on existing efforts to prosecute widespread human trafficking and domestic violence offenders in this circuit,” she added.

As for Soros’ help during her campaign, Ayala said she appreciated his involvement but that she had nothing to do with him. The New York-based liberal crusader set up an independent campaign fund that spent nearly $1.4 million in the last four weeks of the state attorney’s office primary election campaign, buying TV commercials and mailers blitzing her opponent, then-incumbent State Attorney Jeff Ashton.  The money Soros’ spent on that race through his Florida Safety & Justice political action committee was eight times as much as Ayala’s and Ashton’s official campaigns spent combined.

“I understand that Mr. Soros invested in around a dozen prosecutor campaigns across the country, both Republicans and Democrats as supporters and opponents to the death penalty,” she told Orlando-Rising.com. “He supported candidates like myself who were committed to bringing change and reform to prosecution. My values and goals were very clear before Mr. Soros ever supported my campaign. I appreciate the support he gave, but I never solicited it nor did it change my platform.”

Associated Industries releases 2017 Voting Record report

The voting record report is out.

Associated Industries of Florida released its 2017 Voting Record report. Published for more than four decades, the annual report is considered one of the definitive legislative scorecards for the business community. This year, the organization calculated more than 208,966 votes on 1,955 bills with 848 legislators.

“This session, AIF faced a variety of tough issues on behalf of Florida’s business community, including opposing any measure that would have made it more expensive for businesses to operate, such as prejudgment interest and fighting to preserve the insurance premium tax salary credit,” said Tom Feeney, the president and CEO of AIF, in a statement. “Additionally, AIF was a proud advocate for Florida’s business community, actively engaging on measures, such as reducing the business rent tax, addressing the workers’ compensation system, making 5G wireless technology a reality and protecting productive private agricultural land.”

Feeney said while AIF accomplished many of its priorities during the 2017 Legislative Session, “this year’s Voting Records vary from what (AIF has) seen in years’ past.”

The report shows the lowest percentages since 2002 for both the Senate and House, with the Senate voting in favor of the business community 74 percent of the time. The House, according to the report, voted in favor of the business community 79 percent of the time.

“Although Florida’s business community had to fight back initiatives that would have negative impacted our state’s small and large businesses, we did make some headway this session; and, we thank Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature for continuing to give our state the opportunity to have a vibrant, competitive business environment,” said Brewster Bevis, the senior vice president of state and federal affairs at AIF, in a statement.

Rick Scott signs DOT reform bill

Among the five bills signed Wednesday by Gov. Rick Scott is HB 865, an omnibus measure that reforms several areas in the Florida Department of Transportation.

LobbyTools reports that the bill, in part, mandates the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority to get DOT approval on contracts before receiving department money.

The department must also submit a report examining district boundaries and headquarters, as well as changes allowable weight for vehicles fueled by natural gas on interstate highways.

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