Sunshine State News Blogs

America's 43rd president, George W. Bush, will be celebrating his 68th birthday this weekend. 

The Republican Party will be sending Bush a birthday card complete with signatures from people all across the country. Bush's birthday is Sunday.

Click here to sign the card.
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On Thursday. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., pointed to a study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which shows deaths due to narcotic painkillers dropped in Florida by 26 percent from 2010 to 2012.

“I applaud Attorney General Bondi and the Florida Legislature for making great strides on such a critical issue,” said Buchanan. “It is truly a remarkable success. We are one step closer to curbing an epidemic that wreaks havoc on countless families and communities across our state.”

Buchanan noted the CDC report shows Tallahassee’s crackdown on pill mills is working.

"The results from Florida show that state action can make a difference, and confirms the tight correlation between prescribing and deaths,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “These changes may well represent the first documented substantial decline in drug overdose mortality in any state in the past 10 years.”

The report can be read here.

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Florida-based Republican Dr. Ben Carson, while making a pitch for the Washington Times where he writes a weekly column, contrasted today’s culture with when he grew up and offered a stark view of what young people currently face.

Carson, a prominent neurosurgeon who entered the political realm in 2013 when he criticized President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law at the National Prayer Breakfast, has increasingly shown signs of running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. After retiring from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland, Carson, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, is now based out of West Palm Beach.

“America is the land of dreams and it has fulfilled the dreams of so many people from so many places,” Carson emailed conservatives on Wednesday. “As a child, I dreamt of becoming a doctor. And by working hard, embracing my mother's values, and seizing opportunity, I was able to become a neurosurgeon. But I worry that today's generations have been lulled into a complacency that is destroying the promise of the dream.

“The ruling elite has convinced too many young adults that it's OK to stay at home and live in your parents’ basements playing video games or aimlessly roaming the streets with friends,” Carson added. “After all, you can get a monthly check, a free cell phone, and health insurance from Uncle Sam for doing nothing. Opportunity has been replaced by despair. Embracing character, values, marriage, and family has been ridiculed. Government dependence has been substituted for self-reliance. And mediocrity has replaced excellence.”

Carson called on conservatives to join him in “demolishing this culture of failure and standing up to the media elite so that we can take back our country.”
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Former Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to sponsor a NASCAR vehicle in the Coke Zero 400 has resulted in an official complaint with the Florida Elections Commission.

According to the complaint filed by Juston Johnson of the Republican Party of Florida, the sponsorship violates Florida campaign law, which limits individual campaign contributions to $3,000 per person, per election. The average cost to sponsor a car in the race is around $55,000 to $60,000. 

According to the Crist campaign, the cost to wrap the car was an "in-kind donation" from a supporter who is a big NASCAR fan. The car is owned by Mike Curb, Republican former California lieutenant governor. 

The car will be driven by Josh Wise.

See the complaint below.
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Florida House candidate Blaise Ingoglia announced on Wednesday that his campaign to replace term-limited Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, had won the endorsement of House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

"Blaise Ingoglia's commitment to conservative principles, his energy and passion, and his willingness to serve others are qualities we need in our elected officials,” Weatherford said. “Blaise Ingoglia is a man of strong character and integrity and his open, honest and direct style is refreshing. Blaise's strong commitment to principle will guide him as he seeks to represent the people of Hernando County in our state capitol. I am honored to support and endorse Blaise Ingoglia in his campaign.”

Weatherford is the 22nd legislator to back Ingoglia.
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On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera wrote to the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), insisting it was targeting the Tampa-based J.C. Newman Cigar Co. The letter reads as follows:
During the early 1900s, Tampa (later to be known as “Cigar City”), boasted more than 150 cigar factories and produced more than half a billion cigars each year. Now the only remaining cigar factory in Tampa, the J.C. Newman Cigar Company, is threatened for extinction because of rules being promulgated by your agency.

From its immigrant roots to its international success, the story of the family-owned J.C. Newman is a living example of the American dream. As Florida’s oldest industry, the hand-rolling of premium cigars is a strong symbol of the rich Cuban-Latino culture and is uniquely represented by J.C. Newman.

Now, proposed FDA regulations threaten to create an undue burden on J.C. Newman and other premium cigar companies. The FDA is putting undue and excessive burdens on this family-owned company for no logical reason and forcing J.C. Newman to comply with regulations to compete with national cigarette companies that have greater resources at their disposal.

To require these companies to charge $10 for a premium cigar would unnecessarily inhibit future sales. Making matters worse, these artificial price floors only apply to small, family-owned businesses while big tobacco companies are unaffected. In addition, requiring FDA approval for each new size, shape or brand would require upward of 5,000 hours of testing at the company’s expense – a massive burden for a company like J.C. Newman, which simply does not have the financial bandwidth of national cigarette companies that have long incorporated these kinds of requirements into their bottom line.

As America’s oldest family owned premium cigar maker, J.C. Newman is also one of America’s historic treasures. Therefore, we are urging you to amend the proposed rule to exclude premium cigar companies like J.C. Newman from these onerous regulations. We hope that this local, family-owned business will be allowed the opportunity to compete on a fair playing field.
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Bad news for Barack Obama: a plurality of voters think he's the worst president since World War II. 

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found 33 percent believe Obama is the worst president since WWII, followed closely by former president George W. Bush, who 28 percent said was the worst president.

Richard Nixon, who found himself in hot water as a result of the Watergate scandal, received 13 percent of the vote, while Jimmy Carter received 8 percent.  

"Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

The poll also found 45 percent of voters believe the country would have been better off if Obama's 2012 opponent Mitt Romney would have won the election. A smaller number -- 38 percent -- said the country would be worse off if Romney had won. 


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Mayor Alvin Brown of Jacksonville hasn’t exactly been waving the flag for his fellow Democrats, raising eyebrows when he did not attend an event with President Barack Obama on the First Coast during the 2012 campaign. But, as Brown starts off the 2015 election as the favorite, he’s been reaching out to secure the Democratic base.

Brown will be teaming up with old rival U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., later this month to host a book-signing for U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. The veteran South Carolina congressman will be signing “Blessed Experiences” at the historic Ritz Theater and Museum in Jacksonville on Sunday, July 13.
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The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida (DPCF) came out swinging on Wednesday on behalf of former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich who continues her Democratic gubernatorial primary against former Gov. Charlie Crist. The DPCF released a report on Wednesday on education, insisting the primary involved a sharp contrast on education with Crist, who had been a Republican for most of his political life, following policies back by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

“There is no issue of greater importance to Florida’s future than education,” said Susan Smith, the DPCF president on Wednesday. “We compiled this report in order to inform voters about the policies of the Democratic candidates.

“When we look at the records of Sen. Rich and Gov. Crist, we can see a clear difference,” Smith added. “Both support increased funding for public education, but Sen. Rich strongly opposes former Gov. Jeb Bush’s privatization agenda while Gov. Crist appears to support Bush policies.

“We’re alarmed that Gov. Crist still supports the corporate tax scholarship program when we know those dollars go to unaccountable private schools,” Smith concluded. “His proposal to expand the program would further undermine the concept that public education is our shared responsibility.”

The report can be read here.
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From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., weighed in on Tuesday on the murder of three Israeli teens and called for President Barack Obama to suspend aid to the Palestinian government.

“My family’s thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel and especially the families of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach during this difficult time,” Rubio said. “The brutal killing of three innocent teenagers in Israel should serve as a reminder of what Hamas truly represents. This is more evidence that Hamas should not be allowed to participate in any Palestinian government or elections unless they renounce terrorism and accept Israel’s right to exist.

“Until then, I hope the administration will listen to the voices in Congress and in the Israeli government calling for a suspension of assistance to the power-sharing Palestinian government,” Rubio added. “That is the least we can do to honor the lives of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal.”
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Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, played up her crime fighting credentials with the endorsement of the Florida Police Benevolent Association and a new TV ad.

“As a mother, my greatest priority is protecting our state’s children,” said Benacquisto on Tuesday. “Working with Florida’s law enforcement officers and children’s advocates, I am proud to say we have passed some of the toughest child predator laws in the nation and I am honored to have the PBA’s endorsement.”

“Law Enforcement officers in Southwest Florida and across the state are better equipped and more prepared to protect our children from predators because of Lizbeth,” said Matt Puckett, the executive director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association. “Lizbeth shares our zero tolerance for the monsters who prey on our children and backs it up by fighting for the resources our officers need to protect our communities.”

A new ad from Benacquisto will hit the airwaves on Wednesday.

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Tropical Storm Arthur is expected to have little impact on Florida as it moves up to the Carolinas in the days to come. There is a tropical storm watch in effect on the Atlantic coast between Volusia and St. Lucie counties with winds up to 50 mph and heavy rains expected in the area.

“We’re monitoring Arthur’s development and are staying in close communications with leaders on the ground should they need support,” Gov. Rick Scott said on Tuesday afternoon. “This event serves as an important reminder to all Florida families and visitors that hurricane season is here, and it is important that we remain vigilant and have a plan for protecting our families, our homes and our businesses. Families must get a plan and make sure they’re stocked up on critical storm supplies so our communities are prepared for the worst.”
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Tallahassee-based research group and government watchdog Florida TaxWatch has produced The Florida TaxWatch Taxpayer's Pocket Guide to Florida's FY2014-15 State Budget -- help to quickly get spending highlights in each budget area. It also provides a look back at Florida's fiscal growth.

"Reading Florida's more than 400-page budget can be daunting, but the Florida TaxWatch budget pocket guide provides Florida taxpayers with an easy-to-understand explanation of what their hard-earned money is paying for," said Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of the independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit group.

According to a statement from Florida TaxWatch, the budget guide breaks down state spending by budget area and funding source. It also includes historical information about state reserves, Medicaid and the transportation work program. Florida Education Finance Program funding information is also featured, with information on the source of revenue as well as a historical review of per-student funding allocations, TaxWatch says.

"The state budget provides historic levels of funding for children, families, and K-12 education, which helps to invest in Florida's future growth," added Calabro. "Overall, Florida taxpayers should be pleased with the investments our state will be making in the new year."

"Florida's fiscal discipline in passing a balanced budget is on display today," said Florida TaxWatch Chairman John B. Zumwalt III. "The governor's and Legislature's commitment to maintaining Florida's fiscal strength has helped Florida pay down its debt and increase its bond rating, making Florida a great place to live, work, and build a business, while the federal government's financial health has steadily deteriorated."

"During the 2014 legislative session, the Florida Senate worked with our colleagues in the Florida House and Gov. Scott to craft a common-sense state budget that invested in the needs of our state while also providing meaningful tax relief for hard-working Florida families," said Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto. "We set aside $3 billion in reserves, invested unprecedented funding in education and allocated funding to improve our child welfare system."

Taxpayers can request a copy of the budget pocket guide at

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Gov. Rick Scott has been focusing on veterans issues this week. On Tuesday, the Scott campaign unveiled a Web ad featuring Sgt. Luke Murphy, an Iraq veteran who received the Purple Heart after losing his leg due to a bomb, praising the governor’s record on leadership and veterans issues.

Murphy throws a slight jab at former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott, in the ad. “What we had before Rick Scott was not leadership,” Murphy says.

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From his perch on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., called the murder of  three kidnapped Israeli teenagers – Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel – an “outrage” and demanded the end of federal funding to the Hamas-backed Palestinian Authority.

"The murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas terrorists is an outrage,” DeSantis said on Monday. “While it should have been obvious from the start that any 'unity' government that includes Hamas would not be interested in peace with Israel, the Obama administration has continued to send money to the Palestinian Authority even though current law prohibits funds from going to a Hamas-influenced government. Congress must immediately move to cut off funds to the Fatah-Hamas unity government. American taxpayers cannot subsidize a government that is adverse to our interests and whose behavior is contrary to our values."
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Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announced on Tuesday that he was endorsing Gov. Rick Scott for a second term. After a bitter primary in 2010 in which Scott won, McCollum refused to endorse his rival.

“In 2010, Gov. Scott and I competed in a very close and hard fought primary,” McCollum said before praising his former rival’s record. “Over the last four years, Gov. Scott has done a great job for Florida families and served our state very well. His record on helping Floridians create jobs and supporting education has helped families throughout our state, and I am proud to endorse him for re-election today.”

McCollum then turned his fire on former Gov. Charlie Crist who he served with in the Cabinet. Crist, despite having won three statewide offices as a Republican, is the favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

"As someone who served on the Florida Cabinet with then-Gov. Charlie Crist and had a good working relationship, I find many of his views and positions today vastly different,” McCollum said. “Gov. Crist always was proud to be known as ‘Mr. Open Government.’ I find his recent refusal to release his and his spouse's tax returns very surprising and disappointing. Government in the sunshine has been the law, and transparency has been a bedrock principle of Florida government and Florida politics for many years. In making their decision in the governor's race this fall, Florida voters deserve to know the sources of income of the candidates and their spouses, and they deserve a governor committed to sunshine and transparency."
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U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., the vice chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, expressed some hope that businessman Robert McDonald can help reform the VA department. McDonald was nominated to replace Eric Shinseki as secretary of VA on Monday.

“The problems at the VA are very serious, and they are negatively impacting veterans across the country,” Bilirakis said after President Barack Obama announced the nomination. “Veterans deserve timely access to quality care, and in many cases, that isn’t happening right now. It is my hope that Mr. McDonald’s nomination will be the first step on the road to bringing back accountability and transparency to the dysfunctional agency. The VA needs to be about protecting and caring for the veteran, not the bureaucrat.”
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U.S. Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., spoke out on the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday.

“I am deeply troubled by today’s Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. Once again, women’s reproductive rights are under attack," said Hastings."

The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision ruled Monday that certain family-owned companies cannot be forced to offer insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

“I believe that every woman should be able to make her own health care decisions. Unfortunately, the court’s ruling has set a very dangerous precedent," Hastings continued. "We must continue to protect women’s rights in the face of these new threats to reproductive health services, and ensure that companies not be allowed to impose their views, religious or other, on their employees."

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Gov. Rick Scott awarded 200 Florida veterans the Governor's Veterans Service Award in Tampa on Monday.

“It is an honor to kick off our Florida Veterans Service Award tour by presenting 200 Tampa veterans with the Governor’s Veterans Service Award," said Scott. "Our veterans have selflessly fought to defend our freedoms, and it is our responsibility to take every opportunity to thank them for their sacrifice and service to our nation.”

Scott was joined by Florida National Guard Leader Col. Perry Hagaman, and Alene Tarter, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs director of benefits and assistance. 

The ceremony was held at the American Legion Post 111. During the ceremony, Gov. Scott highlighted the service of two Florida veterans and brothers, Martin “Marty” Mount and Arnold “Arnie” Mount.

Martin “Marty” Mount is an Army veteran who saw multiple combat tours in Vietnam. While serving in Germany, Marty Mount distinguished himself by stopping a foreign agent covertly trying to enter his base. Following his military service, Marty secured employment with GTE, and later with Verizon, using skills acquired in the Army to provide communications services to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area for 32 years.

Arnold “Arnie” Mount is a 25-year Navy veteran who was stationed in Okinawa and served in Vietnam in 1970. After becoming a radioman chief petty officer, Arnie Mount was commissioned under the Limited Duty Officer program in 1981. He retired as a “Lieutenant Commander,” and attended law school in Orlando. Later, Mount taught criminal justice and criminal investigations at Everest University in Orange Park. 

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, praised the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday finding that Hobby Lobby does not have to comply with providing birth control under President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Rubio hailed the decision as a victory for religious freedom.

“A key part of the American dream has always been the ability of our people to freely practice their faiths without government interference,” Rubio said on Monday. “Obamacare’s mandates have threatened to change this and, in doing so, erode the American dream as we know it and our people’s ability to live it. The Supreme Court has correctly recognized that Obamacare’s trampling of religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case should not stand.

“Obamacare was written and passed with a clear disregard for the reality that millions of Americans are inspired by their faiths in all aspects of their lives, including the way entrepreneurs manage their businesses,” Rubio added. “In America, no one should be forced to violate their religious beliefs if they wish to run a business.

“The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is a re-affirmation of America’s commitment to religious freedom and a reminder of why Obamacare is such a flawed law that needs to be entirely repealed and replaced,” Rubio concluded.
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Former Gov. Bob Martinez went to bat for fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott on Monday, calling on former Gov. Charlie Crist to release his wife’s tax returns.

“Florida has had a decades-long political tradition of openness and transparency, and I commend Gov. Scott for keeping this tradition,” Martinez said on Monday. “The governor's spouse will likely require security and use of state assets. Charlie Crist needs to disclose not only his financial returns but those of his wife to make certain there are no conflicts of interest. Floridians have an expectation of full transparency from candidates that run for governor. Crist needs to follow the example of his predecessors, Republican and Democratic."
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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., praised the Supreme Court on Monday for deciding that Hobby Lobby and other closely held businesses do not have to comply with President Barack Obama’s health-care law’s contraception mandate.

"The president's health-care law goes beyond overreaching,” Ross said on Monday. “The Supreme Court has ruled today that the agency tasked with implementing Obamacare can't coerce family-owned businesses to violate core tenets of their religious faith. It's a shame that the First Amendment's protections for freedom of religion needed to be validated by the Supreme Court. Today's decision was a victory for religious freedom and another example of why Obamacare must be replaced."
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The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) announced on Monday it was backing Gov. Rick Scott and the three Republicans serving in the Florida Cabinet -- Attorney General Pam Bondi, state CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam -- for second terms.

“Florida leads the country in the caliber of elected leaders we enjoy at the statewide level,” said Dr. Ralph Nobo, the president of the FMA on Monday. “To have the leadership, commitment and vision in taking Florida to the next level not only in economic recovery, but also in championing our health-care issues, is truly a path we must continue over the next four years. We strongly support the governor, attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner for re-election in 2014.”

“I want to thank the Florida Medical Association’s PAC for their endorsement and for their work in keeping Floridians healthy,” Scott said. “I look forward to working with them for four more years to make sure medical professionals continue to grow and thrive in the Sunshine State."

“Having worked closely with leaders in the medical profession in the fight against pill mills and prescription drug abuse, I am thrilled to receive the endorsement of the state’s premiere medical organization,” said Bondi. “I look forward to our continued efforts in keeping Floridians safe.”

“I am honored to, once again, earn the support of more than 20,000 physicians represented by the Florida Medical Association,” Atwater said. “I remain committed to working with patients and physicians so Floridians have a health-care marketplace that ensures the highest quality of care and greatest access to services, while protecting the physician-patient relationship.”

“Through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ wellness program, we are working with medical professionals in developing wellness programs and school policies in local school districts,” said Putnam. “Thank you to the FMA PAC for their endorsement of my re-election bid and for supporting a healthy Florida.”
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While most eyes were focused on the Hobby Lobby decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, pointed toward the NLRB v. Canning decision. DeSantis insisted this decision found President Barack Obama violated the Constitution with recess appointments.

“In a unanimous 9-0 judgment, the Supreme Court repudiated President Obama's attempt to circumvent the safeguards contained in the Constitution by installing two members onto the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) without obtaining the required Senate confirmation,” DeSantis noted.

“The Recess Appointments Clause is clear that the president can unilaterally fill a vacancy when (1) the vacancy is created during the recess of the Senate and (2) the appointment is made during that recess,” DeSantis continued. “For decades, presidents have routinely abused the Recess Appointments Clause by appointing individuals to fill vacancies during a Senate recess even when the initial vacancy did not "happen during the recess of the Senate. Obama went even further -- he purported to use the Recess Appointment Clause to justify filling vacancies while the Senate was not even in recess. If Obama had his way, the constitutionally-mandated Senate confirmation process would be a dead letter.

“All nine justices found that Obama violated the Constitution, but the court split 5-4 on the underlying rationale,” DeSantis added. “Five justices construed the recess appointment power in a way that vindicated past presidents' use of the power while enforcing the requirement that the Senate actually be in recess for the clause to apply. Four justices simply applied the Constitution as written, which rendered Obama's actions unconstitutional but also called into question the practices of past presidents. When there is a conflict between past practices and the text of the Constitution, it is the latter, these four justices reasoned, that must prevail.

“This dispute over constitutional process is very important regarding policy substance. By going around the Constitution, Obama placed individuals on the NLRB who are hostile to nonunion workers and small businesses, thereby moving policy in a direction it might not have gone had Obama followed the Constitution,” DeSantis concluded. “The Constitution's structure is not simply a curiosity meant to provide students with something to study during civics class. It is the primary security for our liberty and the main mechanism through which we hold government accountable.”
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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam cheered the Hobby Lobby decision on Monday.

Putnam, who served in the Republican leadership when he was in Congress, praised the Supreme Court for ruling that business owners can object for religious reasons to being forced to cover birth control due to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.

“A big win for the faith community and religious liberty,” Putnam insisted on Twitter.
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U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), offered her take on the Hobby Lobby decision after the Supreme Court ruled that business owners can object for religious reasons to being forced to cover birth control due to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.

“I am disappointed and deeply concerned by the Supreme Court’s decision today in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby,” Wasserman Schultz said on Monday after the 5-4 decision was announced. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have gained access to preventive services without out-of-pocket costs, including birth control. However, this decision takes money out of the pockets of women and their families and allows for-profit employers to deny access to certain health care benefits based on their personal beliefs. Nearly 60 percent of women who use birth control do so for more than just family planning.

“It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions,” Wasserman Schultz added. “Republicans have also blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would bring us closer to the promise of equal pay for women. In the wake of this dangerous precedent set by the Supreme Court, Democrats in Congress will continue to fight on the issues of importance to women and their families.”
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Conservative group Heritage Action weighed in on Monday, praising U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller’s, R-Fla., efforts to reform the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Miller, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is currently leading the House contingent on veterans reform as it conferences with the Senate.

“The treatment of our veterans has rightly shocked the public, but Congress should resist the temptation to do what it always does in these situations: throw money at the problem,” said Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action, on Monday. “Heritage Action supports Chairman Miller’s call to offset any additional spending and force the VA to justify those requests. There is no doubt Congress must act, but it must do so in a fiscally responsible manner that ensures veterans receive the care they deserve.”
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U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., weighed in on immigration at the end of last week, hitting President Barack Obama’s policies and supporting Republican-backed legislation on the matter.

Yoho announced he was backing the “Southwest Border Protection Act” which would allow governors to request up to 10,000 members of the National Guard to protect the border with Mexico and the “National Border and Homeland Security Act” which adds 6,000 extra Border Patrol agents and adds additional security measures to the border. The Florida congressman also is supporting the “Illegal Entry Accountability Act" which cuts off foreign aid to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador until Congress believes they are helping stem illegal immigration to America. Yoho also signed off on U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa’s, R-Calif., letter calling on Obama to work with Congress in securing the border.

“Poor economic conditions and violence in Central America have existed for many years and thus do not explain the recent surge of immigrants across our southern border,” Yoho said on Friday. “The current crisis along our southern border is a direct result of this administration’s failure to enforce existing law. This lax approach has only encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally. It is my duty as a member of Congress to support legislation that will secure our borders and protect our national sovereignty.”
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Not only are fruits and vegetables good for us, they’re good for Florida’s economy.

Florida TaxWatch released a study on Monday on how produce shapes the Sunshine State’s economy. Florida is the second largest produce exporter in the nation and produce adds more than $7.5 billion to the state’s economy with more than 47,500 jobs.

"Florida's agriculture industry is vital to diversifying our state's growing economy," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, on Monday. "Fresh produce, such as fruits, vegetables, and juices are a key part of the agriculture industry and enhance our global trade impact."

The report can be read here.

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Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., doubled down on his call for President Barack Obama’s impeachment over the weekend as he continues to petition on the matter.

“This week we've demonstrated the massive power we have when we stand together,” West emailed supporters. “Over 100,000 patriotic Americans have signed our petition to impeach Barack Obama.

“This is our moment. We're leading a grassroots revolution to defend our Constitution and take our country back from the liberals who are destroying this great nation piece by piece,” West continued. “Barack Obama is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and brazenly disregarding the Constitution of the United States. I took a lifetime oath to defend this country -– and that includes defending it from Barack Obama.”

Despite losing to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., in 2012, West has remained politically active and has opened the door to a political comeback in 2016.
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