Kevin Derby's blog

Gov. Rick Scott named Jim Boxold as secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation on Friday. Boxold, currently the chief of staff of the department, will take over on Jan. 3.

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Gov. Rick Scott announced on Friday that the unemployment rate in Florida dropped to 5.8 percent in November, the lowest since May 2008. Back in October, the rate stood at 6 percent. Scott also noted that Florida has seen 715,700 new jobs in the private sector since he took over. During the 2010 campaign, Scott said his economic policies would create 700,000 new jobs over seven years.

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Christina Daly, who has led the Department of Juvenile Justice on an interim basis since July, will be Gov. Rick Scott’s secretary of the department.

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On Tuesday night, the U.S. Senate passed the “Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act,” which U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., has been working on since 2006. The Senate passed the bill -- which creates tax-free savings accounts for disabled Americans for qualified expenses and which moved through the House earlier in the month -- on a 76-16 vote. It now heads to President Barack Obama who is expected to sign it into law.

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Even as President Barack Obama calls for new outreach with Cuba, a Florida Democrat on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said Cuba has a long way to go and that Congress will look closely at whatever the White House offers.

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Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Fla., slammed President Barack Obama’s call for normalizing relations with communist Cuba on Wednesday. Lopez-Cantera is of Cuban ancestry.

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On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced the United States will, for the first time since the Eisenhower administration, resume full diplomatic relations with Cuba, drawing the fire of Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla. Wednesday also saw the exchange of aid worker Alan Gross -- who has been accused by the Castro regime of being a spy and imprisoned for five years -- for three Cuban spies.

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Cynthia O’Connell will stay in Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, keeping her post as secretary of the Florida Lottery which she has held since 2011.

“Under Secretary O’Connell’s leadership, the Florida Lottery brought in record sales resulting in an all-time record transfer to Florida’s Education Enhancement Trust Fund,” Scott said on Wednesday.:She is committed to continuing to maximizing funding for education, and I’m confident her work will help us on our path to make Florida the global leader in job creation.”

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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., expressed cautious optimism after President Barack Obama’s announcement of some normalization of American relations with Cuba and the exchange of aid worker Alan Gross -- who has been accused by the Castro regime of being a spy and imprisoned for five years -- for three Cuban spies.

“The success of this monumental development depends on Castro’s willingness to grant basic democratic freedoms for the Cuban people,” Nelson said on Wednesday.

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From his perch on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., tore into President Barack Obama after news emerged that the administration exchanged three Cuban spies for aid worker Alan Gross who had been imprisoned by the Castro regime for five years.

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