Sunshine State News Blogs

At an event in New York on Thursday, former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., told supporters that he would not make the same mistakes that former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., did during his 2012 presidential bid.

“[Romney] made it about a referendum on the president’s policies rather than about himself. He didn’t show his heart,” Bush said at the event according to the Washington Free Beacon. “He didn’t send a signal that he cared about people, when he did.”

“A lot of it is just connecting on a human level with people, not being behind some protective shield,” Bush added. “Campaigning in a way where you’re outside your own comfort zone. Taking questions, not having it all scripted out, not having it all part of some narrative that producers made. Be more spontaneous.”

Despite breaking with conservatives on issue ranging from Common Core to immigration, Bush sounded confident about his chances in the Republican presidential primary in 2016.

“I know how to win a primary, I think,” Bush said. “But the easy way to win a primary is the hard way to win a general. So you have to be true yourself.”

The Free Beacon’s article on the event can be read here.

H/t PoliticalWire, the indispensable political news site from Taegan Goddard.

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U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., is tying himself closer to former U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, the heavy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, as he continues his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Murphy sent out an email to supporters on Friday as he called for overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign financing. He also ditched his attempts to come off as a moderate who reaches across the party aisle, going on the attack against “extreme Republicans” in Congress.

“In 2012, I defeated Allen West by 0.6 percent in the most expensive U.S. House race in history,” Murphy wrote. “I’ve seen firsthand how dark money in politics has made extreme tea party candidates competitive in places where they shouldn't be. And I’ve seen too many extreme Republicans come to Congress.

“The bottom line is that I’m disgusted by what the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision has done to our democracy,” Murphy added. “Now that Hillary Clinton has brought the fight to overturn Citizens United to the national stage, we must stand with her.

“Hillary is right. We must do whatever it takes to get unaccountable money out of politics -- even if it takes a constitutional amendment,” Murphy continued.

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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater might not be running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 but he weighed in on how the federal government was managing its finances on Thursday. Noting that National Taxpayer Independence Day falls on Friday this year, Atwater said the federal government needs to get its fiscal house in order.

“The most concerning thing about National Taxpayer Independence Day is what it doesn’t include,” Atwater said on Thursday. “While the nation’s families can now begin to earn income beyond their total annual tax burden, they remain saddled by the federal government’s uncontrolled debt.

“Just as every American forfeits a sum of money that amounts to nearly one-third of their annual income in taxes, every American household would have to forfeit 14 straight months of income to pay off the current gross federal debt, which doesn’t even include the debt that Washington keeps piling on the backs of hard-working Americans," Atwater added. “American households make tough financial decisions each day and must operate within a budget, and it’s time the federal government should start doing the same.”

Atwater took his name out of contention earlier this month to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in 2016.

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U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., showcased his support for bills improving cyber security on Thursday.

Yoho highlighted his support for the “Protecting Cyber Networks Act” which revises the National Security Act of 1947 so that the director of national intelligence (DNI) works with various federal departments to find the best procedure to inform the private sector about cyber threats. The North Florida congressman also pointed to his support of the “National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act” which amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 so the federal government and the private sector coordinate more to battle cyber threats.

“The threat of cyberattacks to our country and the American people are growing in their sophistication and frequency by the minute,” Yoho said on Thursday. “Whether it is the federal government, private business, or the identity theft of individual Americans, we must do all we can to combat this threat. The two cyber security bills we passed out of the House this week make protection a priority, while preserving the personal liberties of all Americans.

“These bills encourage the voluntary sharing of information to strengthen cyber defense, require congressional reporting and oversight, and mandate sunsets in seven years. This will require congressional approval in order for this legislation to continue past the seven years,” Yoho added. “Cyberattacks are a serious threat to us all. By interconnecting our defenses – between the federal government and private sector – we can better minimize the severity of these unseen, yet devastating, attacks.”

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs needs to hold more employees accountable after reports emerged last year about veterans dying after being placed on altered waiting lists while seeking medical treatment.

Despite Congress voting for reform measures last year, Rubio said their efforts were not working quickly enough.

“The purpose of last year’s VA reform law was to take people out of positions where they can do damage to our veterans but also prevent a broader culture of incompetence,” Rubio said on Thursday. “It’s clear the law’s measures are not working swiftly enough, and the VA is in danger of further entrenching a work environment where people get too comfortable in the belief that their jobs are safe even if their performance is terrible.

“I’m very concerned that the VA secretary has apparently not been straightforward with the American people and with Congress about the department’s use of the firing authority it was granted last year,” Rubio added. “Our veterans who have been victimized by incompetence and ethical lapses at the VA deserve better, and Congress should step up with new measures to do right by them.”

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Politico reported on Thursday that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is the favorite to win the support of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a prominent supporter of Republicans. Adelson heavily supported former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., in the 2012 presidential race and Rubio and other 2016 presidential hopefuls are courting his support. Politico’s article can be read here.

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U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis announced on Wednesday that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas House in Miami will be a national historic landmark. They made the announcement on Wednesday to mark Earth Day and with President Barack Obama holding an event at the Everglades.

“As the National Park Service strives to build partnerships, stewardship, and advocacy of the nation’s natural and cultural resources with the younger generations, we can look to the past for inspiration,” said Jarvis. “Reflected in this newly designated national historic landmark; Douglas’ tireless advocacy for preservation of the Everglades fostered community involvement and appreciation crucial to saving one of the nation’s most treasured landscapes.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a prominent environmental activists whose book, “The Everglades: River of Grass,” is considered a classic in the genre.

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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., part of the U.S. House leadership as senior deputy whip, insisted Iran is helping fund terrorism.

Ross sits on the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing and focused on Iran at a meeting on Wednesday, asking Johnathan Schanzer, the VP of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, about Iran.

“Would you say there is a great deal of cooperation between the various terrorist groups?” Ross asked. “I mean, between Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Shabaab it’s almost as if … would one draw the conclusion that there is a terrorist central bank?

“Well, I would say that Iran is probably the terrorist central bank in terms of the connections it has in terms of all of these various terrorist groups,” Schanzer replied. “And there is this notion out there that Sunnis and Shiites don’t work together but … there is a significant cell of al-Qaida operatives and financiers based in Iran.

“Iran is the lead sponsor of radical Islamic terrorism throughout the world today. At the same time, President Obama and his administration are in the process of negotiating an agreement with Iran that would end current economic sanctions, allowing an estimated $50 billion to enter their economy,” Ross said. “These funds will be nearly impossible to keep out of the hands of terrorist groups. This administration must not strike a deal with Iran that allows them to contribute more financial resources to radical Islamic terrorists across the globe.”

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Florida TaxWatch released a report on Thursday calling for reforms to the prison system in the Sunshine State.

"It is clear that tough-on-crime policies are not working for Florida, as our state's crime rate is still 15 percent higher than the national average, even while crime rates across the nation continue to fall," said Robert Weissert, Florida TaxWatch’s senior VP of research, on Thursday.

Florida TaxWatch recommended keeping some nonviolent felons out of prisions through electric monitoring and other solutions.

"This year, the Florida Legislature and the Florida Department of Corrections are working together to incorporate some of our recommendations in a new corrections framework for Florida," Weissert noted. "The Legislature expects to pass a prison reform package, championed by Sen. Greg Evers and Rep. Carlos Trujillo, that will open the door to taxpayer savings by allowing infirmed prisoners to leave the costly corrections system, and will facilitate data collection to make informed decisions about the elderly prison population. Lawmakers are also considering a bill by Sen. Garcia and Rep. Clarke-Reed that will expand the use of juvenile civil citations, ensuring fewer young Floridians are exposed to the criminal justice system for nonviolent misdemeanor crimes. Others have proposed similar Florida TaxWatch recommendations, such as Rep. Katie Edwards, whose proposal to reduce the number of elderly, nonthreatening inmates in state prisons could save taxpayers up to $40 million. We look forward to working with these lawmakers who have committed themselves to improving the state's criminal justice system in the future."

The report can be read here.


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Move over Gators, Seminoles, Knights, Hurricanes, Ospreys, Hatters. Here comes the Phoenix. 

Florida Polytechnic University has a mascot with students choosing the phoenix to represent the Sunshine State’s newest university.

“Students made an excellent choice in the phoenix to represent Florida Poly,” said the university’s President Randy Avent on Wednesday. “It is a stellar symbol of our spirit and culture, and it conveys that Florida Poly is a place of creativity, problem solving and purpose. Our inaugural class should take great pride in defining this part of our legacy, and I look forward to seeing how they and our incoming class continue to shape our campus and traditions.”

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Former Florida House Majority Leader Steve Precourt joined the board of the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, a conservative group. President and Chairman Jim Kallinger announced the addition of former State Rep. Steve Precourt to the Coalition’s board. First elected to the House in 2006, Precourt served until he faced term limits last year. 

“Steve has earned a tremendous amount of respect and admiration during his service in the Florida Legislature and as a leader in the Orlando business community,” said Jim Kallinger on Wednesday. “His integrity and principled approach will only enhance our efforts to fulfill our mission. We are honored and blessed to have him.”

“I am excited to help advance the coalition’s mission of helping people of faith be energized, informed, active, and effective citizens,” said Precourt. “I am honored to be serving with Jim and the other board members, applying my God-given talents and abilities to this significant task.”

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Gov. Rick Scott said on Wednesday that lifting the embargo with Cuba will hurt Florida agriculture.

“Agriculture is a vital part of our economy in Florida, and lifting the embargo on Cuba could do irreparable harm to it,” Scott said. “Importing agricultural products from Cuba could drive down demand for Florida products, open our crops up to invasive pests and species, and give the Castro regime leverage to continue the suppression of their people. Florida agriculture has over a $100 billion impact on our state, and President Obama should be doing everything he can to support it. Sadly, he continues to stand side by side with the Castro regime. I will continue to oppose lifting the embargo, and fight for Florida families, farmers, and our agriculture industry.”

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Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) Florida chapter released a new radio ad on Wednesday, urging the Florida Legislature to reject Medicaid expansion. Currently, the Florida Senate supports Medicaid expansion while Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House stand against it.

“At some point, the Senate is going to have to recognize that Floridians do not want more federally run health care,” said Chris Hudson, AFP’s director in Florida, on Wednesday. “Their plan will force a massive regulatory burden and even bigger financial drain on the state. Even worse? Their plan does nothing to ensure Floridians get the care they deserve. The Senate should be working with the House and Gov. Scott to hold the federal government accountable, and refocus on what they were elected to do – balance the budget.”

Hudson said the Senate was standing in the way of Scott’s proposed tax cuts, including reducing cellphone and cable services taxes by $470 million.

“By choosing to play politics, the Senate is going to kill a $690 million tax-cut package,” Hudson said. “The state should be balancing the budget and leaving dollars in the pockets of Floridians for them to use the way they see fit.”

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U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., is calling for major reforms to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after two screeners were fired from their posts at the Denver International Airport after groping passengers.

Rooney took to the House floor on Tuesday afternoon to showcase his “Stopping TSA Abuses Act” and explain its purpose.

“When you dress someone up like a policeman and call them officer, you’re misleading passengers about their actual authority,” Rooney said. “Most people see a badge and uniform, and comply with the screeners’ demands – even when those demands are abusive. That has to end.

“I’ve introduced the ‘Stopping TSA Abuses Act,’ to prohibit TSA from giving screeners metal badges, police-like uniforms, and the title ‘officer.’ It reserves those rights for sworn officers who have completed law enforcement training,” Rooney added. “When you see someone wearing a federal badge and uniform, you should have full faith that they received the proper training and will exercise their authority responsibly. This bill is an important step toward that goal.”

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., released a Web video on Wednesday as he continues his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Rubio is trying to portray himself as the voice of younger Americans, a theme he played in the new video as he responds to top Google searches about him. 

“Last week was a historic week in my life. Millions of Americans watched my announcement speech, many hearing from me for the first time,” Rubio noted on Wednesday. “Naturally, they had questions about me and my background, including: ‘Is Marco Rubio a conservative?’ Absolutely! ‘Is Marco Rubio a Democrat?’ No. So where did they turn? Google!”

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U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schult, a breast cancer survivor, weighed in on Tuesday after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that not all women in their 40s needed annual mammograms. Wasserman Schultz released the following statement on Tuesday:

Yesterday, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released draft recommendations for public comment that throw into doubt whether insurance companies must cover routine mammograms for women between the ages of 40 and 50. This is a dangerous step in the wrong direction.

Women with significant genetic risk factors for breast cancer should not have to worry about whether their insurance will cover preventative screenings, which can catch cancers earlier and potentially save their lives. As a young breast cancer survivor who was unaware of my own increased risk before my diagnosis at 41, I strongly believe we need more, not less, preventive services available to patients who need them.

The reality is that breast cancer has disproportionate impacts on African-American women, Ashkenazi Jewish women, and women with higher genetic risks of breast cancer due to family history. These draft recommendations try to impose a “one-size-fits-all” approach for a complex disease that affects women of all ages in very different ways. In addition, while most women respond better to traditional mammograms, other preventative techniques, like 3D mammography, have proven to be more effective at fighting aggressive, early onset breast cancer that disproportionately affects women of color. These draft recommendations throw coverage of those technologies into doubt.

In 2011, there were 283,000 diagnosed cases of breast cancer in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute’s latest research, the number of cases will skyrocket over the next two decades, to 441,000 cases by 2030. Thousands of these new cases will be younger women. These numbers are cause for alarm – and continued action. I strongly oppose these new draft recommendations, and will work with the Obama administration, members of Congress, and concerned groups to ensure that younger women and women at higher risk have access to affordable health care to assist them in this fight. I will take appropriate action to ensure that these misguided draft recommendations do not harm women whose lives might be saved through the preventative screenings these recommendations would make less likely.

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From his perch on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., showcased the “shameful shortcomings” of the mental health hotline run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and wants the administration to investigate. 

Sending a letter to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Tuesday. Nelson pointed to reports of an Air Force veteran who called the suicide prevention hotline based at a VA center in Tampa in which the veteran was put on hold and called for an investigation.

“Every day, 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide – that’s inexcusable,” Nelson said on Tuesday. “And that’s why it’s necessary that we have an adequate VA support system so that they’ve got someplace to turn to. These are the brave men and women who have returned home from protecting our country. So I’ve asked the secretary of the VA for a full investigation of the department’s mental health hotline. Don’t tell me that veterans call, as I’ve heard, and they can’t get an answer – or are put on hold and they’re desperate, about to commit suicide. I want to know why. And I want to know what’s being done, not only to fix this immediately but make sure it never happens again.”

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A familiar face returned to the Florida House on Wednesday morning as Tampa Republican James Grant was scheduled to be sworn in. Grant easily won a special election on Tuesday and is now back in the House.

“After a short time away, the House of Representatives welcomes Rep. Grant back to the Florida House,” said Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island. “With Rep.Grant’s return, our Republican majority is complete with 81 members.”

Grant was first elected to the Florida House in 2010 and easily kept his seat in 2012 and 2014. After disputes over a write-in candidate and a Republican primary opponent in 2014, the Florida House overturned the results of November’s election and set the stage for Tuesday’s special election.

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U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., came out swinging at President Barack Obama’s Cuban policies in an op-ed published at Time’s website on Tuesday. In the op-ed, Diaz-Balart insisted the Obama “continues to appease brutal dictatorships while gaining precious little in return." Diaz-Balart also hit Obama's policies in regards to Iran and other nations in the op-ed. 

“He conflates the Cuban dictatorship with the Cuban people when in reality, their interests are diametrically opposed,” Diaz-Balart wrote. “With sweeping arrogance, President Obama acts as though he stands above history with wisdom that surpasses every American president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first to impose sanctions on the Fidel Castro regime. Obama’s foreign policy is radical even compared to his own party. President John F. Kennedy imposed many of the first stringent sanctions against the Castro regime, and President Bill Clinton signed into law the LIBERTAD Act, which codified sanctions that Obama now opposes.

“All eight Cuban-American senators and congressmen from both sides of the aisle, strongly disagree with him,” Diaz-Balart added. “One would think that he might consult with us.”

The rest of the op-ed can be read here.

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Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., endorsed former Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chairman Lenny Curry in the runoff next month against Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. Curry led the RPOF in the 2012 elections when Romney was the Republican candidate against President Barack Obama.

“I have traveled our country working to advance conservative principles, and here in Florida I’ve had a partner in Lenny Curry,” Romney said on Tuesday. “Lenny is committed to restoring conservative leadership to Jacksonville. As an accountant and business owner, his professional experiences make him the right person to deal with the city’s finances. Lenny and his wife Molly have dedicated themselves to making Jacksonville a better place for their children and all families. I proudly support Lenny Curry, and ask all of Jacksonville to vote Lenny Curry for mayor.”

“Mitt Romney is a conservative leader with a passion to see America succeed,” Curry said. “In business and in public service, Gov. Romney has been a tireless advocate for freedom and prosperity. I am honored to have his support and endorsement, and I thank him for taking time to remind voters that conservative principles are the pathway to a better Jacksonville.”

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With Florida senators holding a health-care workshop on Tuesday, Bob McClure, the president and CEO of the James Madison Institute, a group that fights for free-market solutions and less of a role for government intervention, said the Senate’s support of Medicaid expansion remains a major problem.

"Using the term ‘free market’ to describe a plan that relies on federal dollars and price controls, is like Alice peering through the looking glass -- it's the exact opposite of reality,” McClure said on Tuesday. “Although well-meaning, the misguided proposal in the Senate will do nothing to bring long-term solutions to what should be the ultimate goal of creating a low-cost, high-quality health-care system and improved access to it. We hope that Floridians and policymakers see through the rhetoric and recognize the plan for what it is: a massive expansion of the federal government in our state and the lives of many Floridians."

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From his perch on the U.S. House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., announced on Monday that $94 million was being sent to improve MacDill Air Force, including $39 million for a special operations support facility and $55 million for runway improvements for Black Hawk helicopters.

“The continued investment of SOCOM resources and infrastructure, combined with the relocation of Army Reserve Black Hawks, will provide necessary resources for our men and women in uniform to carry out their critical mission, and the investment further demonstrates the national security significance, and growing permanency, of MacDill," Jolly said on Monday.

Jolly also showcased $163 million to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), an increase of almost 6.5 percent from the last budget.

“This funding is intended to provide for the hiring of 770 new full-time VBA employees, and specifically for 200 new claims processors at regional offices like ours in St. Petersburg, so that veterans do not have to wait months and months for critical claims decisions,” Jolly said. “The current backlog must be cured and Secretary McDonald assures us these additional resources will solve the problem.”

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Almost half of Americans dislike teachers' unions, according to a new poll released Tuesday from Rasmussen Reports. 

The new survey found nearly half -- 47 percent -- feel unfavorable about teachers' unions while a smaller amount -- 39 percent -- feel favorable about teachers' unions. 

Thirty-nine percent believe, in terms of its impact on the nation, it's a bad thing that most teachers belong to public employee unions. One-third (33 percent) say it's a good thing most teachers belong to public employee unions.

Florida's largest teachers' union, the Florida Education Association, is comprised of 137,000 teachers statewide. 

When it comes to how easy it is to get rid of poor teachers nationwide, more than half of Americans (61 percent) believe it's too hard to get rid of poor teachers. Only 6 percent say it's too easy to get rid of poor teachers while 20 percent say it's about right.

The national survey of 800 adults was conducted April 8-9 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
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Former state CFO Alex Sink threw her support behind U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., for the U.S. Senate in 2016 on Tuesday. Murphy announced last month that he would run for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is running for president.

“Florida needs a leader in the U.S. Senate who will combine fiscal responsibility with practical solutions," said Sink. "As our next senator, Patrick will work to strengthen Social Security and Medicare for seniors, empower the middle class, and protect the Everglades. Patrick will be a leader all Floridians can be proud of, and I am honored to give him my support."

"As Florida's CFO, Alex Sink put partisanship aside to manage our state's finances and worked to ensure all Floridians could achieve the American dream," said Murphy. "I'm proud to have her endorsement, and pledge to be a senator who will work across the aisle to fight for economic opportunity for all Floridians."

Murphy has been rounding up endorsements even as U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., considers entering the race. Former Gov. Charlie Crsit and U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings and Frederica Wilson have endorsed Murphy.

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At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. cheered the news that congressional leaders from both chambers have reached an agreement over the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and said free trade would boost South Florida’s economy.

“I applaud Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member Ron Wyden, and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, for introducing this critical bill,” Curbelo said on Thursday. “The new Trade Promotion Authority legislation will help the United States in establishing strong free-trade agreements that will increase American exports and create new economic opportunities for our workers, farmers, and small businesses.

“South Florida is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Americas,’ and our community has seen firsthand just how beneficial increased trade is with other countries,” Curbelo added. "This new legislation outlines clear objectives that current and future administrations must follow when entering talks with foreign countries. I’m also pleased this bill will strengthen Congress’s role in the negotiation process by creating more transparency and allowing for procedures to hold the administration accountable should they fail to meet TPA requirements.

“It is my hope Congress can have a fair and open debate on Trade Promotion Authority and future free-trade agreements so we can provide more economic opportunity for all Americans,” Curbelo said in conclusion.

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Florida TaxWatch released a report on Monday which called for more investments in transportation to ensure the record number of tourists continue to flock to the Sunshine State.

"Florida's tourism industry is a critical component of the state's diverse economy, but growing demand puts a strain on the state's transportation and tourism infrastructure, which could limit the future growth of this important industry," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.

"Florida must be able to adequately provide capacity for residents and visitors to retain its position as a world-class destination," said Robert Weissert, the senior VP for research and general counsel for Florida TaxWatch. "Lawmakers must address the critical capacity and infrastructure development needs facing the state to ensure Florida is not stifling the growth of an industry that supports millions of jobs for state taxpayers."

The report can be read here.

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The fight over Medicaid expansion left Tallahassee and hit the Florida airwaves at the end of last week.

On Friday, fiscal conservative group Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) Florida chapter launched a TV ad, urging the Florida Senate to reject Medicaid expansion.

“Florida senators have been engaged in a game of political spin,” said Chris Hudson, AFP’s director in Florida. “Instead of focusing on how to reduce the overall cost of health care and instill real reform, the Florida Senate led by President Andy Gardiner has been claiming that expanding a broken and jammed system will somehow solve the health-care crisis, create jobs and save money, and improve access to care for the most needy. That’s simply not true.

“The rising costs of health care as a result of Obamacare have left many people hurting” Hudson added. “Rather than doubling down on Obamacare by expanding Medicaid, the focus should be on finding ways to make all health care more affordable and more accessible for more people.”

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U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government which oversees the IRS, showcased his tax fighting on Thursday as he voted for the “State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act of 2015” and voted to end the estate tax.

The “State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act of 2015” would ensure a permanent deduction of local and state sales taxes would be included in federal taxes. Crenshaw insisted Florida taxpayers would benefit from it.

“Americans are dedicating time and resources to jump-start our economy and create jobs, and in the process deserve certainty in their federal tax policy to support them,” said Crenshaw on Thursday. “Under current law, residents of states with a state income tax have a permanent deduction for state and local sales taxes. This isn’t the case for Florida and other states that do not have a state income tax. As a result, they are left with uncertainty, year after year, if the option to deduct state and local sales taxes will be available to them.”

“The State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act levels the playing field, making permanent the ability for residents of nonincome tax states to deduct local and state sales taxes on their federal return,” Crenshaw added. “As a result, more hard-earned dollars remain in their wallets to grow a business, pay for education, the mortgage, or whatever use they see fit. It’s a simple, transparent, and fair way to grow the economy, create jobs, and improve the quality of life and is long overdue.”

Crenshaw also highlighted his support of ending the estate tax.

“Americans are taxed their entire life and unfortunately taxed again on their assets at death. This double taxation is not only outrageous but unfair. It’s time to bury the death tax for good,” said Crenshaw on Thursday.

The First Coast congressman insisted repealing the estate tax would benefit his home region.

“Families across Northeast Florida and the nation who have spent a lifetime building their small business, farms, and ranches deserve a fairer path on which to pass them on to the next generation,” Crenshaw said. “That’s why I have long-supported a permanent repeal of this regressive and punitive tax that does nothing more than put a roadblock in their way, create uncertainty, hamper economic growth, all while raising a relatively {small] amount of revenue."

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U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., drew closer to announcing a bid for the U.S. Senate this week.

On Thursday, Grayson appeared on “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman and was asked about whether he would run for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. With Rubio launching a presidential bid earlier this week, he is not expected to run for a second term.

“Congressman Grayson, very quickly, Bernie Sanders hasn’t yet officially announced that he’s running for president, but what about you?” Goodman asked. “Sen. Rubio has announced he is running for president. Will you be running for his seat in Florida?

“ I’m giving it a lot of attention,” Grayson said. “The answer is probably yes, but I haven’t made up my mind yet once and for all. I hope to do that soon.”

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., is already running for the Democratic nomination.  

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Even though most Americans have a great deal of respect for the teaching profession, the majority of them say they wouldn't want to get into the teaching field themselves, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll.

Only 25 percent of American adults consider teaching a desirable profession to go into despite 67 percent of Americans saying being a teacher is one of the most important jobs in the country.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans don't see teaching as an attractive profession, while 18 percent are undecided.

More than half of Americans -- 58 percent -- believe public school teachers are paid too little. Only 10 percent say teachers are paid too much while 25 percent say they're paid just right. That number increased to 41 percent when respondents were informed the average American teacher makes $56,000 a year.

The national poll of 800 Americans was conducted April 8-9 by Rasmussen Reports.
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