Sunshine State News Blogs

Budget conferencing has begun on Capitol Hill and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tapped U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla,., the chairman of the U.S. House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, as part of the House’s negotiating team.

“I am honored to have been chosen as a conferee, and I am grateful to Speaker Boehner and Chairman Price for this opportunity," Diaz-Balart said on Tuesday. “With the national debt at $18 trillion and growing, it is imperative that we cut waste, while also prioritizing funds to necessary programs. It has been over a decade since our country has had a balanced budget, and it is time to change that. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the budget conference as we begin to get America’s fiscal matters back in order.”

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The Tea Party Express is the latest conservative group to call on U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. With Rubio announcing for the presidency on Monday, he is not expected to seek a second term. DeSantis said on Tuesday that he was exploring the possibility and several conservative groups quickly fell in line behind him.

"When we first endorsed Ron DeSantis for Congress in 2012, it was because he promised to challenge the status quo with bold, conservative leadership,” said Taylor Budowich, the executive director of the Tea Party Express, on Tuesday afternoon. “He has done just that. Sen. Rubio will be greatly missed, but a DeSantis candidacy would give tea partiers throughout Florida a competitive, conservative choice to replace him. Not only is DeSantis solid on the key economic issues, he also is a hard-working candidate who can be elected statewide in Florida. We are excited and encouraged by this exciting development."

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With Wednesday being Tax Day, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., is using the occasion to gather support for a “simplified tax code,” gathering online petitions to streamline federal taxes.

“Filing taxes is a confusing and burdensome process that we must comply with each year,” Curbelo insisted on Wednesday. “Too much of our time and hard-earned money is spent just on filing our tax returns. It’s time we did away with this headache and simplify the tax code.

“To keep our country competitive in a vast global economy, we must make the tax code work for small businesses and working families. Tax reform will keep businesses and jobs in our country and reward hard work, not pander to special interests," Curbelo added. “As a small-business owner, I know how much this complexity hurts our economy. Stand with me for a reformed tax code that empowers our economy."

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Gov. Rick Scott might not be taking sides in the race for the Republican presidential nomination but he is inviting some of the top contenders to Orlando to share their views on the economy.

On Tuesday, Scott’s Lets Get to Work PAC announced it would host an “"Economic Growth Summit” in Orlando on June 2 and some of the leading candidates for the Republican nod plan to be at the event.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will be attending. So will U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who officially kicked off his presidential campaign on Monday. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., who moved to Florida after his 2008 presidential bid, will also be attending.

Some candidates with ties to Scott will be on hand. They include Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., who went to bat for Scott during the 2014 gubernatorial race through his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Also in attendance will be Scott’s allies former Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, and Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., who is moving up in the polls, will also be on hand.

But there are some big names missing so far and that includes two candidates who are already running: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Also not on board yet is Dr. Ben Carson who is expected to launch his presidential bid next month.

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The Florida Cabinet backed state CFO Jeff Atwater’s proposal to recognize this week as “Days of Remembrance” to honor victims of Nazi Germany with Thursday as “Holocaust Remembrance Day,”also called Yom HaShoah.

“In memory of the victims of the Holocaust, in honor of its survivors, and in utmost gratitude for the risks taken by rescuers and liberators, Floridians are encouraged to use this as an occasion to rededicate themselves to the principles of human dignity and respecting individual freedoms,” Atwater said.

Since 2011, the Division of Consumer Services in the Department of Financial Services, has helped recover more than than $5.2 million through the Holocaust Victims Assistance Program.

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U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., is looking to put a check on executive power with a resolution returning Article 1 powers to Congress and looking to include executive usurpation as grounds for impeachment. Despite being a fierce critic of President Barack Obama, Yoho said his proposal was not directed against the president.

“Many of the people I have the honor of representing are tired of executive overreach and the circumvention of legislative process,” Yoho said on Monday. “It is a dangerous precedent to set when the president begins to rule by fiat and takes on the role that is specifically reserved for Congress.

“Today’s resolution addresses this issue and begins to set a standard to define what constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors,” Yoho added. “Let me be clear, this resolution isn’t directed at any one president and doesn't favor one party or the other. Essentially, it will put all presidents – current and future, both Democrat and Republican – on notice that Congress will finally begin holding them accountable.

“I swore to uphold the Constitution and defend the rule of law, regardless of who the president is,” Yoho concluded. “This is but a first step in reigning in an overreaching executive and restoring the balance of power in our government – the way our founders intended

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On Tuesday, from his perch as chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw noted federal income taxes were due on Wednesday and stressed his support of the FairTax proposal.

“With Tax Day upon us, residents in Northeast Florida and across the nation need no reminder of the long hours and many dollars spent to understand and comply with the complex tax code,” Crenshaw said on Tuesday. “It’s a frustrating process, made more difficult by a lack of trust in the agency formed not long ago by chilling revelations that the IRS had targeted taxpayers based on political belief and wasted thousands upon thousands of dollars on lavish conferences and video production.

"My mission to simplify the tax code, make the IRS more accountable, and free Americans to keep more money in their own wallets rather than sending it to Washington moves forward on many fronts,” Crenshaw added. "That’s why I co-sponsored FairTax legislation in one of my very first actions this year. Since 2006, I have fought to replace the current tax code with a transparent national sales tax on goods and services administered primarily by the states. Federal income taxes and the FICA payroll tax would be eliminated, and the IRS would no longer be needed.

“As chair of the subcommittee responsible for appropriating the annual IRS budget, I also keep a close eye on operations there, pushing the agency to be more accountable to and transparent with taxpayers and Congress,” Crenshaw continued. “When news first surfaced that the IRS had abused the trust of American taxpayers, I immediately called top IRS officials to the Hill to answer for their actions. We enacted strict reforms to keep the agency in check =- a mission that continues today.

“In the week ahead, Congress will continue its work to provide taxpayers with accountability and transparency from the IRS,” Crenshaw said. Enacting a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that requires the IRS to fire employees who use their position for political purposes, prohibits agency employees from using personal email accounts to conduct official business, and improves access to the courts for those who believe they have been wronged by the agency is long overdue. Providing more tax relief for American families along with legislation, already passed, to provide permanent tax relief to small businesses also makes common sense and would help create nearly 200,000 jobs.”

Crenshaw ended with a shot at President Barack Obama’s policies.

“The current administration will continue to favor more regulations and higher taxes on the road ahead,” Crenshaw said. “But, make no mistake, I do not and never have. That is why I am joining with fellow Republicans to put forth common-sense solutions that create a brighter future full of opportunity for everyone.”

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Conservatives at the national level cheered U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., announcing that he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is running for president.

"If DeSantis decides to run for Senate, it would be a recruitment coup for conservatives in the critical state of Florida,” said Daniel Horowitz of Conservative Review on Tuesday. “DeSantis would bring the trust and respect of the conservative grassroots to the race due to his strong record as a fiscal, social, and national defense conservative.

"Not only has DeSantis been a reliable voice on the critical issues of our time, such as immigration, Obamacare, and crony capitalism, but his strong government reform agenda would also have a strong appeal in a general election as well," Horowitz added.

DeSantis scored high with Conservative Review, getting an “A-” grade from it.

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Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., came out swinging on Tuesday against President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration which keeps millions of illegals in the country without fear of being deported. Huckabee moved to Florida after his 2008 presidential bid and is looking at running again in 2016.

On Tuesday, Huckabee released a Web video on the topic.

"We've got to repeal Obama's unconstitutional executive orders, oppose amnesty, and secure the border,” Huckabee says in the video. “You don't punish people for living by the rules. If you're rewarding people who play outside the rules, and punish people who live within the rules, pretty soon nobody is going to play by the rules. By securing the border and protecting American workers and their livelihoods, we'll finally help every American earn his or her maximum wage."

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On Tuesday, a day after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced he would run for president in 2016, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis said he is thinking about replacing him in the U.S. Senate.

"Marco Rubio has done a great job in the U.S. Senate,” DeSantis said on Tuesday. “His 2010 campaign inspired me to consider running for office, and I have no doubt that he will make a compelling candidate on the national stage. As it became clear that Sen. Rubio was likely to run for president, I received encouragement to consider running for the Senate. Casey and I will use the next several weeks to discuss the race with our friends and supporters and will make a decision in short order.

"The country is suffering from stagnation at home and indignities abroad,” DeSantis added. “We need a new generation of leaders who will promote policies that will foster economic growth and alleviate the middle class squeeze, defend America's national security against those who threaten our people, reform the culture of Washington, D.C., and reassert the constitutional principles that make our country unique. Whatever shape my future service takes, I look forward to doing my part to help get our country back on track."

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Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron announced on Tuesday that she is running for the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who is running for the U.S. Senate.

“I believe we live in a nation that, as our Founding Fathers intended, has given its citizens the greatest opportunities for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Negron, the wife of Florida Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. “However, I am concerned that if we continue on our current path, those opportunities will be threatened. We are straying from the principles that have made our country great and on which our country was founded, which is fracturing our nation and stifling meaningful policy changes.”

Much like Murphy has in the past two elections, Negron downplayed partisanship and pledged to find “common ground.”

“Partisan politics will always exist, but we must find a way to avoid partisan policies that do not move our communities and our nation forward,” Negron said. “We can still retain our individualistic spirit and celebrate our differences and unique perspectives, but we must work to find common ground that will result in real change.

“I have lived in Martin County for more than 30 years, and I have worked and raised a family here,” Negron added. “I know the issues that are important to our area, and I know that our area wants and deserves someone in Washington that is grounded in their roots here at home, but can make a difference in Washington. Over the course of this campaign, I look forward to a healthy discussion on issues, such as educating our children, growing our economy and workforce and helping families keep more of their hard-earned dollars to spend how they wish, not how the federal government wants. I also plan to campaign on local issues, such as long-term water solutions and the environment – all of which I know are front-of-mind issues for my neighbors.

“I look forward to getting out on the campaign trail and earning every vote,” Negron promised.

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U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the chairman of the U.S. House National Security Subcommittee, will be leading his fellow post-9/11 congressional veterans in opposition to President Barack Obama’s policies with Iran.

"President Obama has said that criticism of the Iran nuclear framework ‘needs to stop,’ but I believe it is important to highlight the framework’s deficiencies for the American people,” DeSantis said on Monday. “It bestows international legitimacy on Iran’s nuclear program, provides the Iranian regime a huge infusion of cash that will allow Iran to foment terrorism abroad, and incentivizes other Middle Eastern nations to engage in a dangerous nuclear arms race in what is already an extremely volatile region. This cannot be permitted. I look forward to joining my colleagues on the House floor this evening to discuss this critical national security issue.”

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., threw his hat in the ring on Monday, announcing that he will run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Rubio made it official on Monday, telling George Stephanopoulos from ABC News that he was entering the presidential race.

"I think this country's at a generational moment where it needs to decide not what party it wants in charge but what kind of country are we going to want to be moving forward," Rubio told Stephanopoulos. "I think the 21st century can be the American century, and I believe that I can lead this country in that direction. I can help lead it there from the Senate. I can lead it there as president.”

Rubio joins U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson; and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as official candidates for the Republican nomination. Former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton announced on Sunday she was seeking the Democratic nomination.

Later on Monday, Rubio will hold an event at the Freedom Tower in Miami to kickoff the campaign.

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U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s, D-Fla., team weighed in on Monday after reports emerged that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would announce on Monday night that he was running for president and not a second term in the Senate. Murphy announced last month he was running for the Senate regardless of what Rubio did.

“Sen. Marco Rubio just announced he’s running for president,” Josh Wolf, Murphy’s campaign manager, emailed supporters on Monday. “That means he won’t be running against Patrick Murphy for United States Senate in 2016!

“Frankly, it couldn't come a moment sooner. People in Florida are ready for a leader they can count on in the Senate,” Wolf added before showcasing a “farewell card” the Murphy campaign was gathering signatures for. “Marco Rubio is out, and we’re so thankful that he’s taking his anti-marriage equality, Social Security and Medicare-cutting agenda with him.”

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Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, offered kind words for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as the senator from Florida enters the primaries.

"Marco is a friend and colleague whom I greatly respect,” Cruz said on Monday. “We're both the sons of immigrants who escaped Cuba to build a better life in the United States, and we share a deep appreciation and understanding of what it means to work hard and achieve the American Dream. Marco is a talented communicator and part of a new generation of Republicans stepping forward to promote conservative solutions to our pressing challenges. He is a strong addition to the Republican field, and he will undoubtedly elevate the debate for all of us."

Rubio is expected to launch his presidential bid on Monday night at an event at the Freedom Tower in Miami.

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With U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., expected to launch a presidential bid at an event at the Freedom Tower in Miami on Monday night, conservatives and liberals from across the nation are starting to have their say on his impending campaign.

Erick Erickson over at Red State urged his fellow conservatives not to underestimate Rubio, especially when compared to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who are already off and running for the Republican presidential nomination.

“He has been a voice for fiscal sanity, small government, and strong foreign policy,” Erickson wrote of Rubio. “He is also one of the kindest men approachable in Washington. He would rather talk football than politics. He would rather be with his wife and kids than at a fundraising event or Washington social party.

“Today, Rubio will declare his candidacy for the presidency of the United States,” Erickson continued. “Cruz and Paul have gotten the attention so far. All three of these conservative senators, the grassroots revolutionaries, are announcing ahead of the smorgasbord of governors and other would-be Republican contenders. Rubio’s path to the stage in Miami today explains why he might be better positioned than Cruz or Paul to make some headway.

“Rubio, however, is the original tea party candidate,” Erickson insisted. “His candidacy united the grass roots against the leadership and he won. The Washington crowd convinced themselves he could not win, but the grass roots proved they could pick a winner. Rubio was the first.

“While Cruz and Paul began forging coalitions, Rubio worked to not undermine his relations with the grass roots while not antagonizing the establishment,” Erickson added. “His immigration compromise hurt him, but he seeks the nomination in a party that nominated both Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Mitt Romney, two men to the left of Rubio on immigration.

“Today in Miami, Sen. Marco Rubio will declare his candidacy for the presidency and of the three conservative senators to run, he is most likely the Goldilocks of the bunch,” Erickson concluded. “He is not too tied to the grass roots to antagonize the establishment. He is not too tied to the civil libertarians to antagonize the conservatives. And he has not gone out of his way to reject the base of grassroots supporters who got him elected in order to curry favor with the leadership. He strikes the right balance. He has also been so sufficiently off the radar, by design, for so long that many donors and primary voters will want to listen again to the man who united the right to beat Charlie Crist and the establishment in 2010. They may like what they hear.”

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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., came out swinging at former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday as she officially launched her presidential campaign. Santorum is looking at making a second try for the Republican nomination.

Santorum’s Patriot Voices PAC hit Clinton in a new video while he drew upon his time in the Senate with her to argue she has no business sitting in the Oval Office.

"I know Hillary Clinton. I served with Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton does not have the right vision to lead America,” Santorum said on Sunday. “I believe we need a president who puts the American worker first, not the corporate interests the Clintons have aligned with. I believe we need a president who stands up for the 75 percent of Americans who will never earn a college degree, not the government bureaucrats who are dictating policy from Washington, D.C., offices. And I believe we need a president who understands it takes a family to rebuild America from the bottom up, and it will not be a village, state, or federal government that makes America great again.

"In the six years I served with Sen. Clinton, one thing was abundantly clear -- Hillary Clinton believes that government is the solution to the challenges our nation faces, not the underlying cause of many of those problems,” Santorum added. “I am committed to working day and night over the next 18 months to ensure our next president is someone who understands the gravity of the challenges we face and has a message that puts hard-working American families first.”

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Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation are lining up behind former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who officially announced her presidential bid on Sunday.

The new candidate can count on the support of U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., who quickly fell in line on Sunday. “There's no better candidate than Hillary Clinton for hard-working American families,” Frankel posted on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who is running for the U.S. Senate, is also behind Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton is an inspiration to women across this country and a tireless advocate for middle class families,” Murphy posted on Twitter. “I'm ready for Hillary.”

But there is one member of the Florida delegation who will sit on the sidelines in the primary. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was a key Clinton ally during her 2008 presidential bid but now, as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), will be neutral until the nomination is official.

“I would like to welcome Hillary Clinton as the first official candidate for president of the United States to seek the Democratic Party's nomination in 2016,” Wasserman Schultz said on Sunday. “As first lady, senator and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has been a forceful advocate for women, children, and families, and an effective ambassador on the global stage.

“While we expect a competitive primary for the Democratic nomination, one thing is for certain -- next November, voters will face a choice between Democrats who will continue to build on the middle class economic success of President Obama, and Republican candidates who want to bring back the failed, trickle-down economics of the past,” Wasserman Schultz added. “I look forward to the contributions that Sec. Clinton, and all of our eventual candidates, will bring to this debate between two very different visions for the country.”

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U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. took off the gloves on Friday and went after former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairwoman Annette Taddeo who launched a challenge to him this week.

“Just this week, failed Democratic lieutenant governor and congressional candidate Annette Taddeo announced she would challenge me in 2016," Curbelo emailed supporters on Friday. “Florida voters rejected Annette in 2014, 2010 and 2008, but she doesn’t seem to be getting the message. Even worse, her million-dollar mansion isn’t even in our district.

Our nation and our community need leaders who will fight to make our economy stronger and keep us safe, not another partisan rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and their deep-pocketed liberal donors," Curbelo added, insisting “national Democrats will do everything in their power to bankroll my opponent.”

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With former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to launch her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination this weekend, the Republican National Committee unveiled a new Web video as it launched its “#StopHillary” campaign on Friday.

“From the East Wing to the State Department, Hillary Clinton has left a trail of secrecy, scandal and failed liberal policies that no image consultant can erase,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “Voters want to elect someone they can trust and Hillary's record proves that she cannot be trusted. We must 'stop Hillary.'”

The RNC will be launching an online effort in key swing states, including Florida

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Former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., is looking to get his conservative credentials in order before launching a presidential bid. This weekend, Bush will hope to win right-of-center support by showcasing his record on Second Amendment issues. Bush and other Republican presidential hopefuls will be speaking to the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Nashville.

The Wall Street Journal has a piece on Bush’s record on Second Amendment issues during his time as governor:

During his eight-year stretch as governor, Mr. Bush signed numerous bills extending new rights to gun owners, including those to expand protections for people permitted to carry concealed firearms. As a result, more than a million Floridians have permits to carry concealed weapons. He also approved a measure allowing Florida to extend its protections to residents of other states who visit the Sunshine State.

“He’s probably more conservative on guns than anybody in that race,” said Bill Bunting, a prominent gun-rights activist and a GOP committeeman with the state party. “He’s got a perfect track record.”

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Former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., appeared on News Talk Florida this week, closing the door on another presidential bid and insisting the Clinton dynasty is far worse than the Bushes.

While Bachmann's claim that President Barack Obama has set the stage for "World War 3" with his foreign policy garnered most of the attention, the conservative former conrgesswoman also waded into presidential politics. On Wednesday, Dan Maduri from News Talk Florida asked Bachmann about former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., who is expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

“A lot of people, and Republicans, are taking shots at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush saying the presidency isn’t a throne to be passed down or inherited. Do you think that’s an appropriate statement to be made towards Jeb Bush?” Maduri asked.

“Well, you know, we’re just in the process now of just fielding our candidates,” Bachmann answered. “The most important thing right now is that if you’re looking at a hierarchy, the Clinton hierarchy is one that is unparalleled and I think that right now people aren’t terribly excited about Hillary Clinton. She hasn’t proven herself to be a remarkable candidate. I think that will be a big plus to the Republicans going forward, the fact that it’s tough for her to do retail politics very well, and I think that what we need now in our country is a very bold, conservative president. Whoever that person will be that will gain the Republican nomination is going to have to demonstrate that they’re very smart, they’re a quick study, they know how to debate and more importantly that they can stand up against the ruling class in Washington, D.C., and make the bold actions that need to be taken.

“We’re in real trouble financially,” Bachmann added. “We’re going to be in excess of $20 trillion in debt. When I went into Congress as recently as January 2007, United States government was $8.6 trillion in debt. When I left, just a mere eight years later this January, we were more than double that amount. It took our country about 230 years to get itself $8.67 trillion in debt and in eight years' time, we’ve doubled that amount and we’re continuing to gain momentum regarding accumulating debt. That will completely rewrite what America looks like in the future and and so this isn’t just an academic exercise. This will be a matter of economic survival in our country. We have that, plus we have threats from foreign terrorists greater than we have ever seen before so we need someone who will be able to grasp these matters and not take small, incremental changes but bold changes to be able to address both of these serious problems.”

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Noting theSummit of the Americas in Panama has been marred by pro-democracy protesters being attacked by supporters of the Castro regime, Gov. Rick Scott urged President Barack Obama to keep Cuba listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“The attacks by Castro’s supporters against Floridians and Americans peacefully protesting at the Summit of the Americas is outrageous and another example of why the president should not remove Cuba from the state sponsored terrorism list,” Scott said on Thursday. “President Obama and the U.S. State Department should immediately stand up against this violence and send a strong message to the Castro regime that America does not allow their citizens to be abused for peacefully expressing their views. In Florida, we continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Cuba and their pro-democracy movement.”

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., went to bat for U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on Thursday, sending an email to supporters about his Senate ally’s new book.

“I’m writing to you about an eye-opening new book by my friend and fellow conservative, Sen. Mike Lee,” Rubio wrote. “It’s called 'Our Lost Constitution’ and it tells the dramatic behind-the-scenes stories of the heroes who inspired and wrote our Constitution, as well as the villains of history who have defied and ignored so many parts of it.

“Like you and me, Mike recognizes the disregard for our Constitution that permeates our government in every branch and on both sides of the aisle,” Rubio added. “His depth of knowledge on this issue has long been a valuable asset for conservatives in Washington, and now he is sharing his insights with the world in this new book.

"With ‘Our Lost Constitution,’ you and I will have a powerful and fascinating reference to use in our fight to change how our nation thinks about the Constitution," Rubio concluded. “I urge you to pick up a copy, read it, and pass it along to any concerned citizen – conservative, liberal, or libertarian.”

Rubio is expected to launch a presidential bid at an event in Miami on Monday.

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College students from Florida will now be able to attend the College of Coastal Georgia and receive in-state tuition for the next three academic years as long as they remain continously enrolled. The main campus is in Brunswick.

“Affordability is the operative word,” said Clayton Daniels, the assistant VP on enrollment management in Coastal Georgia. “Out-of-state tuition is almost quadruple the in-state rate for full-time students. The College of Coastal Georgia is designated to be a college of choice. Now students from Florida, South Carolina and Alabama can attend for the same cost as an in-state resident. This will be a wonderful opportunity for students and the college.”

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The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) continues to showcase former Miami-Dade Democratic Chairwoman Annette Taddeo’s far-from-stellar start to her campaign against U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.

On Thursday, the NRCC launched a website full of GIFs, highlighting Taddeo’s past electoral defeats, living outside the district, canceling a radio appearance due to being tired and claiming to be “middle class” despite a $1.25 million home and being worth $5.7 million.

“Someone needs to sit down with Annette and tell her this whole ‘running for office’ thing just isn’t for her,” the NRCC insisted. “But in the meantime, we’ll be watching.”

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is expected to launch a bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday at an event in Miami and, on Thursday, he set up a super-PAC to help his White House ambitions.

AP reported on Thursday that Rubio will get the help of Conservative Solutions PAC to support his presidential campaign. Super-PACs played a large role in the 2012 presidential race and all signs show they will remain influential in the 2016 campaign.

Conservative Solutions will be led by veteran Republican strategist Warren Tompkins while Jon Graham will be handling fundraising and Jeff Sadosky will lead communications efforts.

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Calling it the “most important issue I have ever worked on in 30 years of advocacy,” John Stemberger, the president of Florida Family Action, rallied social and religious conservatives against a proposal to allow same-sex couples to adopt children in Florida. The Senate is expected to vote on the issue later on Wednesday.

“In over three decades of working in and around Tallahassee, this could be the single most critical issue I have worked on and it is all going down today in the Florida Legislature,” Stemberger emailed supporters on Wednesday. “Many of you may have heard about the bad adoption bill that Florida House of Representatives passed out which strikes the statutory language of Florida’s long standing prohibition on homosexual adoptions. This leaves faith-based adoption agencies completely vulnerable to being attacked by the 23 local so-called ‘non-discrimination’ ordinances being used around the country to punish Christians who believe in God’s design for marriage and family structures.

“When same sex marriages were closed in Massachusetts, Catholic Charities was forced to shut down because the government was forcing them to place children for adoption with homosexual men, and the same thing is about to happen in Florida if this House bill passes without strong conscience protection,” Stemberger added. “If the House bill passes in its raw form, my best estimate is that at between 40-65 percent of the faith based adoption agencies in Florida will shut down due to the overwhelming legal challenges they will encounter when they honor their faith and show a preference for placing children in homes with both mothers and fathers. Ultimately, they will have no choice but to stop doing adoption placements.

“The original underlying adoption bill was initially a good bill because it gave economic incentives to adopt special needs children, but the bill was amended so that the way it is worded will eventually do much more to hurt children by forcing faith based adoption agencies to close,” Stemberger continued.

Urging conservatives to contact senators, Stemberger asked for their prayers as well.

“We need God to move upon the hearts and minds of those in leadership, (many of who are usually our good friends and allies) who have been completely deceived and mislead, regarding both the legal facts and the reality of the hostile nature of our opponents, the judiciary, and how this bill will eventually cause real harm to thousands of Florida’s children,” Stemberger wrote.

“We need to do everything within our power to persuade legislators in Tallahassee to do what is right,” Stemberger concluded.

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Even as the two chambers of the Florida Legislature struggle to reconcile their budget differences--which are more than $4 billion--Florida TaxWatch released a report on Wednesday looking at some of the tax cut proposals in play. Florida TaxWatch continued to support Gov. Rick Scott’s cuts to cell phone and TV service taxes and urged the House to support killing the manufacturing sales tax. 

"While both the House and Senate plan to reduce the Communications Services Tax, which Florida TaxWatch has consistently supported for more than 10 years, the House is delaying an opportunity to permanently eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment until 2016," said Kurt Wenner, Florida TaxWatch’s VP for tax research. "Reducing this tax would improve high-wage, high-skill job creation in the manufacturing sector, and we are encouraged that the Senate is giving the proposal, supported by Gov. Rick Scott, serious consideration."

The report can be read here.

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U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., one of the leading congressional Republicans on foreign affairs, slammed the Obama administration on Tuesday after national reports that it was going to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) list.

“The expected decision by President Obama to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list would be nothing short of a miscarriage of justice borne out of political motivations not rooted in reality,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Tuesday. “It would be a miscarriage of justice for the 11 million Cubans on the island suffering under the oppressive Castro regime and a miscarriage of justice for the millions of Cubans who risked their lives to flee the island with the hopes of one day returning to a free and democratic Cuba. It would be a miscarriage of justice for the victims of Cuban terror, especially for the family and friends of the victims of the Brothers to the Rescue shootdown and slain New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster, whose murderer, Joanne Chesimard, has been living openly as a fugitive in Cuba with support from the Castro regime.

“U.S. law is clear that a country cannot be removed from the SST list if it has not changed its policies and so long as the country is still supporting acts of international terrorism, but President Obama is yet again willing to circumvent the law by ignoring the Castro brothers' continued policies in support of terrorism by providing safe haven to foreign terrorist organizations and repeated violations of international sanctions,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “The Obama administration is so desperate to open up an embassy in Havana at any cost that it is willing to concede to Castro’s demand to remove Cuba from the SST list, serving only to further embolden the regime and undermine U.S. national security.

“It was only four weeks ago that a huge shipment on its way to Cuba was purposely mislabeled as grain products when in fact it was a large batch of gunpowder, detonators, artillery shells, and other explosives on a Chinese ship,” Ros-Lehtinen said in conclusion. “In 2013, Cuba was caught illegally shipping MiG fighter jets and weapons disguised under tons of sugar on a North Korean ship, in violation of U.N. international sanctions. The Obama administration chose to look the other way in both cases. We should not reward the criminal behavior of a repressive regime that insists on continuing to abuse human rights.”

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