Sunshine State News Blogs

Gov. Rick Scott presented the Governor’s Sports Award to Florida State University Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and the 2013 FSU football team on Tuesday for their athletic achievements and winning the 2014 BCS National Championship.

The Governor’s Sports Award is an award given to those who have made significant contributions to sports in Florida.

“It is an honor to present the Governor’s Sports Award to Florida State University Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and the 2013 FSU football team," said Scott. "As a college player and later as a coach, Coach Fisher has proven to be a true competitor and leader."

"I think it’s a great opportunity for some of these young guys to see the impact and influence they can have," said Fisher.

Scott emphasized the impact of FSU's athletics to the state of Florida.

"Just like their coach, the student-athletes with us today have demonstrated the positive characteristics that FSU athletics stand for," he said. "FSU’s 2013 team will go down in college football as one of the most dominant teams in college football history.”

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Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart announced the five finalists for the 2014 Florida School-Related Employee of the Year award on Tuesday.

According to a press release, the award recognizes outstanding education support personnel for the significant contributions they make to their schools and communities.

The finalists are:

  • Debra Alvis-Greenwald, administrative assistant at Booker Middle School in Sarasota County Schools.
  • James Lefko, food services manager at Bayshore Elementary School in Lee County Public Schools.
  • Kathy Moresi, executive assistant for the Professional Learning Department at Florida Virtual School.
  • Toni Padgett, career specialist at Fleming Island High School in Clay County Schools.
  • Deloris Patterson, school secretary at Dr. Phillips High School Ninth-Grade Center in Orange County Public Schools. 

“Every person in a school system contributes to the success of its students,” said Stewart. “These important staff members are making a positive impact on the students they serve. I thank them for putting in the extra effort and I congratulate them for standing out among their colleagues.”

The winner will be announced in late April and will be presented with $1,500 in cash and tickets to LEGOLAND® Florida. All finalists receive a $500 cash prize and tickets to LEGOLAND Florida. 

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Businessman Curt Clawson, running in the Republican primary to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., in Congress, signed a pledge from Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) not to raise taxes. Clawson’s two primary rivals -- Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, and former state Rep. Paige Kreegel -- signed the ATR pledge earlier in the campaign.

"I wanted to closely study the issue because I was concerned with what impact it would have on my ability to reduce tax exemptions and subsidies,” Clawson said. “For example, if we wanted to reduce subsidies and lower overall tax rates, would the subsidy reduction be considered a tax increase?  Before taking any sort of pledge, it is important to consider all aspects of it.

"After careful review, I spoke to Grover Norquist personally and today I am signing the ATR pledge,” Clawson added. “I think it is very prudent to take the time to study something prior to announcing a decision."

Clawson also threw a jab at his rivals.

"I find it odd that the career politicians, who had previously voted for tax increases, were claiming to have signed this tax pledge,” Clawson said. "It seems more than a bit disingenuous and, unfortunately, typical of career politicians who will say and do anything to win an election.”
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After reports and photos of Jake Rush partaking in dark-themed, live-action role-playing games (RPGS) got national attention on Tuesday, the Republican congressional candidate looked to offer an explanation and insisted this was all a campaign trick by U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho’s, R-Fla., team.

“As a straight shooter, yes, I play and have played video games, role-playing games, board games, Yahtzee, Clue, and I have acted in dozens of theater productions. My undergraduate degree is in the classics, and I have been raised with a deep appreciation for theater, costumes and art.

“All my life, I’ve been blessed with a vivid imagination, from playing George Washington in elementary school to dressing up as a super hero last Halloween for trick or treaters. Any cursory review of the Internet will show that I have played heroes and villains,” Rush continued. “I have never hid nor shied away from disclosing my hobby activities. When I was hired at the sheriff’s office, I fully disclosed my gaming and theater background on the application, and these hobbies posed absolutely no problem or raised any flags. In fact, when applying for undercover work, these hobbies were considered an advantage, so much so my shift lieutenant nicknamed me ‘Shakespeare.’

“I have undergone no less than three background checks in my professional career:  when I applied at the sheriff’s office, when I applied to the Florida Bar, and when I applied to join the sheriff’s office again as a reserve officer.  I have always been found to be of high moral character and fitness,” Rush continued. “As a practicing Christian, I am deeply offended that the opposing campaign and their supporters would take a gaming and theater hobby and mischaracterize it. The very definition of acting is expressing ideas and thoughts that are not your own,  just like I don’t believe I am MacBeth, which I have played, I am none of the characters.”  

Remzey Samarrai, Rush’s campaign manager, insisted the Yoho campaign was behind the reports.

“The opposition should be ashamed with their game-playing; this is yet another example of the buffoonery that always follows Ted Yoho,” Samarrai said. “In an attempt to deflect from his moral and political failings, the opposing campaign shamelessly believes he needs to impugn Jake’s character with innuendo, misleading photos and gossip.”

Alex Patton, who is also on Rush’s team, went after Yoho’s record, insisting the freshman congressman was a liberal.

“Clearly, Ted Yoho and his supporters want to talk about anything other than his abysmal congressional record: a vote to fund Obamacare, a vote for the budget, a vote to cut veterans' benefits, and an isolationist foreign affairs policy,” Patton said. “None of which liberal-libertarian Yoho is addressing.”

“Bottom line: there is nothing wrong with being a gamer,” Rush said. “It’s kind of nerdy, but North Central Florida deserves a legitimate debate on the issues instead of Ted Yoho’s usual sideshow distractions.”
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Hispanic Republicans from Florida, led by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., vouched for Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday. Last week, Democrats tried to make political hay out of reports that Mike Fernandez left the Scott campaign after reports that campaign aides were speaking in over-the-top Mexican accents.

The two congressmen along with three Florida state senators, 10 Florida state representatives and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., along with other Florida Republicans released the following statement on Tuesday:

“The results of Governor Rick Scott’s steadfast determination to turn around Florida’s economy completely overshadows the distortions that the Democratic Party are spreading.

“Florida’s Hispanic families understand well the difference between a bad economy with double-digit unemployment and the current economy, led by Governor Scott, adding 540,000 new private-sector jobs since 2010. As a vital part of Florida's economy, Hispanics can appreciate the hard work Rick Scott has put into turning our economy around and leading the nation in job growth and economic recovery.

“We are firmly committed to re-electing Governor Scott because he will keep our state on track toward economic recovery. Hispanics see what all Floridians see: a governor who has worked tirelessly to create jobs, cut taxes and turn our economy around. We encourage Governor Scott to remain focused on fulfilling his vision for our state, creating economic opportunities for all Florida families.” 
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Dr. Ben Carson, whose name is generating some buzz as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, is launching a new online magazine for African-American conservatives. Carson received notice for his criticism of President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast.

Carson showcased American CurrentSee on Tuesday in an email to conservatives.

“America is the land of dreams, and it has fulfilled the dreams of so many people from so many places,” Carson wrote. “As a child, I dreamed 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 continued. “After all, you can get a monthly check, a free cellphone 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.

“I want you to join me today in demolishing this culture of failure and standing up to the media elite, who for too long have treated black Americans as a monolithic bloc addicted to a single political dogma,” Carson continued. “We need a new media source that embraces hard work, moral character, family values, good education and self-reliance, and inspires the next generation with role models who have cast off the chains of mediocre expectations and proven that the American dream is alive and well.

That's why I have joined friends like Armstrong Williams, Rev. A.R. Bernard, Juan Williams and others to create American CurrentSee, a new type of digital magazine that gets delivered every Sunday to your email inbox and works on your computer, smart phone or tablet,” Carson added. “It will arm you for this fight by boldly addressing wrongheaded entitlement dependency and chronicling how big government's well-intentioned nanny state has created lasting pathologies like broken families, overtaxed businesses, underperforming schools and crime-ridden neighborhoods. Mostly importantly, it will inspire you to embrace a new agenda of economic opportunity, moral leadership and freedom from suffocating government.

“I love the last stanza of our national anthem. But I also know that in order to be free, first you must be brave,” Carson concluded. “Be brave ... together let's demolish the tired old dogmas, free today's generations from dependency and mediocrity and build a better America.”

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Even as he faces new questions about his personal life, Jake Rush, an attorney and former Alachua County sheriff’s deputy, released a new television ad as he continues his Republican primary challenge against freshman U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla. Rush ignores Yoho in the new ad and focuses on introducing himself to the voters of North Central Florida. Besides offering some biographical details, Rush stresses his conservatism in the new ad.

But Rush is drawing national attention for his personal life, namely his passion for live action role playing games (RPGs) with dark themes, including vampires and satanic symbols. Erik Erickson over at Red State has the details -- and photos -- of Rush's live action RPGs. Peter Schorsch over at Saint PetersBlog also has some details on Rush and the various RPGs.

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Former state Rep. Paige Kreegel launched a new television commercial on Tuesday as he continues running in the Republican primary in the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., in Congress. The new ad features Kreegel’s wife Erika talking about his background.

“My husband Paige is running for Congress,” Erika Kreegel says in the ad. “Campaigns have become so nasty. People should stand on their record. Paige has been a doctor in Southwest Florida for 30 years, on the sheriff's SWAT team, and as a trauma doctor saving the lives of our servicemen.

“As a legislator he fought to protect life, and Second Amendment rights. Paige's is a life of service to patients, community, and family,” she adds. “For 25 years Paige has never let me down. You can trust him with your vote and our children's future.”

Kreegel battles Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, and businessman Curt Clawson in the Republican primary on April 22.

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On Monday, two prominent Florida Republicans -- Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio -- played up their opposition to Nicolas Maduro and his regime controlling Venezuela.

Scott announced that he would send petitions with more than 1,000 signatures from Florida urging President Barack Obama to take action against the regime. Back in February, Scott urged Obama to launch sanctions against the Venezuelan leadership.

“The people of Venezuela have a voice – this petition guarantees they will not be silenced,” Scott said. “Their voices will not be ignored. This petition represents the voices of over 1,000 people who have come together to urge the Obama administration to take action. The voices crying out for freedom, liberty and justice will not be ignored.”

"Living in Florida, we are surrounded by friends, relatives and neighbors who are being directly impacted by Nicolas Maduro's wave of repression in Venezuela,” Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Monday. “I appreciate Rick Scott's continued efforts in support of our efforts in Congress to sanction individuals responsible for human rights violations in Venezuela and to get President Obama and his administration off the sidelines."
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Adrian Wyllie, the favorite for the Libertarian nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott, announced at the end of last week that he was bringing in a member of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s, R-Texas, team to help his campaign.

“We are pleased to announce and welcome our new director of marketing Curt Schultz to Team Wyllie,” the Libertarian hopeful announced. “Curt Schultz is part of the team that was behind and the Ron Paul Superbrochure. The Superbrochure was highlighted on the Ed Schultz show on MSNBC. This was the key component that got Ron Paul polling high in Iowa virtually overnight.

“Curt has already been doing market tests on the Wyllie Superbrochure as well as polling in the race,” Wyllie added. “He brings a level of professionalism, expertise and energy that will ensure we make history in November!”
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For the first time since the school shootings in Connecticut back in December 2012, Rasmussen Reports released a poll on Monday showing a majority of likely voters -- 53 percent -- oppose stricter gun control laws. Only 40 percent of those surveyed back stronger gun control laws, down from 49 percent last May.

The poll of 1,000 likely voters was taken March 26-27 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

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With the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) attacking former Gov. Charlie Crist in recent days, the Florida Democratic Party struck back on Monday by attacking Gov. Rick Scott. Crist is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott in November despite having spent most of his political life as a Republican.  

Joshua Karp, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party, pointed to attacks from the RPOF on Crist, showing the new Democrat wearing a Rolex and riding in a limousine.

“This attack is so ridiculous that it’s just laughable,” Karp said. “Not only is it blatantly hypocritical for Rick Scott's campaign to attack someone’s wealth, or lack thereof, their attack completely concedes that Rick Scott is not a ‘man of the people.’" 

Karp noted that Mike Fernandez recently resigned as one of Scott’s chief fundraisers with reports of campaign aides doing over-the-top Mexican accents.

“What kind of campaign goes out of their way to make the case that their own candidate is out of touch? Clearly one still reeling from the resignations and racism scandal that rocked the campaign last week,” Karp continued before turning his fire back to Scott.

“Besides having a second roof in storage -- for real, it’s made of a rare tile -- Rick Scott is the proud owner of two private jets. In 2010, he dumped $70 million of his personal fortune into his campaign, and has pledged to spend a record amount again to buy his way to re-election,” Karp said. "If Rick Scott’s team wants to argue over which candidate is more in touch with the concerns of Florida’s middle class, we more than welcome the fight.”
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Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign team released a 15 second Web video on Monday showcasing job growth during his term in office. The ad stays positive, not taking aim at former Gov. Charlie Crist or other Democrats. The Scott team launched English and Spanish versions of the ad.

“The ad comes as new unemployment data shows that Florida has added over 540,000 private-sector jobs since Gov.Scott took office,” Greg Blair, a spokesman for the Scott campaign, informed the media on Monday morning.

View the ad below:
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Gov. Rick Scott flatly rejected ideas for the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) to tie bonuses to police officers based on the number of tickets they write.

“The idea that FHP would tie officer bonuses to the number of tickets they write is absolutely outrageous and wrong,” Scott said. "All state worker bonuses should be based on better – not worse – outcomes for the people of Florida who pay the taxes to fund state government.

“Floridians paying more in tickets is not a better outcome. Period,” Scott added. “If this idea comes across my desk, I will reject it.”

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Gov. Rick Scott announced Florida's job numbers for February on Friday, revealing that the state created 32,100 private-sector jobs over the month.

According to a press release from the governor's office, this is the highest number of private-sector Florida jobs created in a single month since Scott took office.

Despite the positive growth in job numbers, the state’s unemployment rate for February remained at 6.2 percent, which is the lowest unemployment rate in the state since June 2008. The rate held steady from the revised January rate of 6.2 percent.

Florida's unemployment rate remains below the national unemployment rate, which was 6.7 percent in February.

The numbers are a positive for Scott, who is using jobs and a low unemployment rate as part of his re-election campaign. 

"It is clear that businesses are growing and creating more jobs and opportunities for Floridians," said Scott. "We are moving Florida’s opportunity economy forward and the addition of more than 32,000 private-sector jobs in just last month is great news for Florida families. Let’s keep working so that every Floridian who wants a job can get one, so let’s keep working.”   

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Democrats -- the real ones, not the ones who think they have to vote for Charlie Crist to win -- are increasingly uncomfortable with Charlie's right-of-center answers to basic Democratic policy questions.

They want a good look at the alternative.

And now Nan Rich, the only real Democrat in the gubernatorial race, is not only saying the same thing, she's calling for her party leaders to give her and Charlie that much-anticipated debate.

"How can we trust Charlie Crist to represent our progressive values in the governor's office," she asks in her Thursday eblast, "when he won't even defend his self-described 'anti-tax, pro-life, pro-gun' record against Democratic primary opponent Nan Rich?

"Sign our petition to call on the Florida Democratic Party to support a Democratic gubernatorial debate."

Last week, Charlie said he’s "not even thinking” of debating Rich. Of course not. He knows full well she would roast him like a hen on a spit.

Last week he told a South Florida TV audience he "didn't know" what he would do about school vouchers.

"I can tell you exactly what I'd do," Rich told me at "Rock the Moon," a Tallahassee charity event Monday night. "Democrats want to know where he stands and if the things he believes in are the same as the ones they believe in."

Refusing to debate is just wrong – especially when so many questions remain about how recent Republican Charlie Crist will govern, Rich said. Voters deserve a discussion of the issues before we go to the polls this summer.

"... We have two very different candidates in our primary election," Rich's eblast said. "Nan Rich has a long track record as a real progressive, pro-choice Democrat. But so many questions remain about Charlie Crist’s record and his ability to now govern as a progressive."

Click here to check out Rich's petition. 

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Gov. Rick Scott’s team launched a Web ad on Thursday praising the governor’s work on funding cancer research.

State Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, the chairman of Scott’s campaign, tried to contrast Scott’s record with that of former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination.

“Gov. Scott continues to increase funding to support cancer research,” Thrasher said on Thursday. “Meanwhile, Charlie Crist continues to embrace Obamacare as ‘great,’ even as the law is hurting cancer patients’ access to treatment. This ad shows how Gov. Scott cares about cancer patients. Unfortunately, Charlie Crist only cares about his own political career and how embracing Obamacare may help himself.”

The ad is part of a more than $350,000 digital ad buy.
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The Florida Democratic Party wants Rick Scott's latest ad taken off the air.

In a letter sent Thursday to 67 television stations across the state, FDP attorney Mark Herron requested the stations refuse to broadcast the ad, which criticizes former Gov. Charlie Crist for describing President Barack Obama's health care plan as "great."

"This advertisement knowingly misleads your viewing audience about the impact of the Affordable Care Act," wrote Herron. "In fact, two of the claims central to the advertisement have been previously reviewed by PolitiFact and were determined to be 'mostly false.'"

The video reported that news outlets had said that Obamacare will drive 2.5 million Americans out of the workforce and that 300,000 Floridians would lose their health coverage because of Obamacare.

"As a responsible media source, it is your duty to ensure that this type of advertising does not contain patently false information," wrote Herron. "The FDP would strongly urge you to refrain from airing this advertisement. Absent a showing of proof, this political advertisement should not be allowed to air."
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Former Gov. Charlie Crist is going on the attack with a new video trashing Gov. Rick Scott. Despite spending most of his political career as a Republican, Crist is the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott in November. “Florida can’t trust Rick Scott” is the theme of the new ad which was released on Thursday.

The Scott team fired back by insisting Crist raised tuition during his time in office and pointing to a report from Bay News 9.

“Charlie Crist is releasing a new ad this morning, but it was his response to Governor Scott last night in Sarasota that should raise eyebrows,” Matt Moon, a spokesman for the Scott campaign, emailed the media on Thursday. “In Tampa yesterday, Governor Scott said that ‘we have to reduce the tuition increases that happened while Charlie Crist was governor.

“Charlie Crist’s response?” Moon asked before pointing to the Bay News 9 report. “As the reporter said, Charlie Crist ‘didn’t deny raising tuition for college.’ Only one conclusion can be made from that: Charlie Crist doesn’t care about students.”

Check out Crist's new video below:
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Florida TaxWatch highlighted the role of the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research as well as universities to promote new technology and businesses in the Sunshine State.

"Connecting our state's start-up companies with the resources they need to succeed will better ensure Florida businesses continue to develop new technologies and capitalize on products invented in the state," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, on Thursday.

According to a report from Florida TaxWatch, the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research has helped create 26 companies in Florida since 2007.

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Despite not making a fourth presidential bid in 2016 or currently holding office, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, remains active in politics and, this week, he gave a shout out to a congressman from Florida. Paul announced to supporters on Wednesday that he intends to be active in the 2014 elections with his Liberty PAC to help candidates for federal office. Paul and his team are behind U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., as they run for re-election and behind Paul Broun’s bid for the U.S. Senate in Georgia and Greg Brannon’s in North Carolina.

Paul also drew a line in the sand when it comes to “establishment Republicans” including those backed by Karl Rove.

“Sadly, establishment Republicans are determined to spend whatever it takes to defeat liberty candidates in 2014,” Paul insisted. "In fact, one so-called ‘pro-business’ group has pledged to spend up to $50 million to elect candidates that will continue the crony capitalism that has existed for years. Two years ago, Karl Rove spent $300 million to support ‘electable’ Republicans. His groups opposed liberty candidates like Thomas Massie and supported Big Government Republicans like Scott Brown.After all that time and money spent, most of the Republicans supported by Karl Rove’s groups were defeated.”

But Paul pointed to “liberty candidates” who won in 2012 like U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.

“Great liberty candidates, like Thomas Massie, Walter Jones, and Ted Yoho, were elected when so many establishment Republicans lost,” Paul maintained.

Yoho doesn’t have Paul’s endorsement yet for 2014 but the Florida congressman kicked off his campaign for a second term last week with the backing of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the son of the former congressman. Yoho even called Rand Paul the “presidential front-runner” for 2016.

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Orlando businesswomen Marva Scott will be joining the Florida State Board of Education -- Gov. Rick Scott named her to the board on Wednesday.

Johnson currently serves as corporate vice president for Bright House Networks LLC. 

“I am confident that Marva will be a committed servant to Florida students," Scott said in a statement. "I look forward to working with her and the entire Board of Education to further ensure that all Florida students can get a great education so they can pursue their dreams.”

Johnson's term began Wednesday and will end Dec. 31, 2017.
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Gov. Rick Rick Scott announced Wednesday that Lockheed Martin’s mission systems and training facility in Orlando will be expanding, bringing up to 200 jobs and a capital investment of approximately $80 million.

The company currently employs nearly 7,000 in Orlando and is expanding the location due to a corporation-wide consolidation. Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

The company is currently the largest industrial employer in Florida, with a workforce of nearly 11,000 employees across the state.

“This expansion of Lockheed Martin is great news for Florida families in Orlando," began Scott. "Florida has proven to be the perfect business climate for companies like Lockheed Martin. Since December 2010, Florida businesses have created more than 503,500 private-sector jobs. Let’s keep working to create an opportunity economy that will create jobs for future generations.”

“Lockheed Martin’s mission systems and training facility in Orlando will add great value to Florida’s extensive aviation and aerospace sector, " said Gray Swoope, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida. "Lockheed Martin is a world leader in the industry and has created thousands of employment opportunities and millions in economic impact in the state for more than 58 years. They are a great community partner and we look forward to seeing their continued legacy of success in the Sunshine State.”

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Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska announced on Wednesday that she is backing Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, in the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., in Congress.

“We have been lucky to visit Southwest Florida on several occasions and know it is one of the warmest places in the country,” Palin said. “The warmth comes not only from the sun, but also from the citizens. We met many dedicated patriots in Naples, Fla., on our recent book tour. They deserve better representation than what they have had recently. Lizbeth Benacquisto is the only proven conservative in the race. She served her constituents well, and has never forgotten who put her in office – the people. Lizbeth will take these values to Washington to fight for us all.

“Lizbeth Benacquisto is a proven conservative with an unwavering commitment to the principles of our founders and to the sanctity of life,” Palin added. “In the Florida state Senate she has a record that demonstrates a willingness to take on special interests and rein in the scope of government. A fierce advocate for her constituents, Lizbeth has introduced and pushed through legislation to protect our senior citizens.

“In particular, Lizbeth’s personal triumph over hardship and staunch defense of life is inspiring," Palin continued. “We need this fighter and advocate for women and innocent life in Washington!

“I admire and respect the good folks supporting other candidates in this race, but we’ll have to disagree on this one,” Palin said before taking aim at businessman Curt Clawson. “Lizbeth is running against a wealthy, self-funded candidate with lots of splashy campaign ads claiming to be a conservative. Since when do conservatives stand for crony capitalism and government bailouts? Please do your homework, voters. Look beyond the fancy anonymous campaign ads. Look at a candidate’s record, not just their rhetoric. Lizbeth is a genuine conservative with a track record to prove it.”

"On the national stage, there is no greater voice for principled conservatism and the spirit of the founders than Gov. Sarah Palin," said Benacquisto. "To have the support of Sarah, someone so dedicated to getting this nation back on the path to prosperity, is a tremendous honor.

"I am proud to have the recognition of Sarah and grateful that patriots in this congressional district know they have a conservative they can trust," Benacquisto added.

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A poll from St. Leo University released on Wednesday finds strong support for legalizing medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. Floridians will vote on a proposed state Constitution amendment in November to legalize medical marijuana. If it garners 60 percent, the proposed amendment will pass.

The poll finds 75 percent of those surveyed favor legalizing medical marijuana with 30 percent of the total surveyed backing across-the-board legalization. Only 19 percent say they think marijuana should remain illegal under all circumstances.

The poll of 500 voters, was taken from March 16-19 and had a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.
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A poll from St. Leo University released on Wednesday shows President Barack Obama sinking in Florida with only 39 percent of likely voters approving of him while 50 percent disapprove of him. Obama carried Florida in both 2008 and 2012.

“Floridians strongly disapprove of the job that President Obama is doing in the White House,” said Frank Orlando, a political science instructor at St. Leo University. Orlando said this could help Florida Republicans in November, including Gov. Rick Scott. “This type of national feeling can make its way into state and local elections by damaging the party’s brand name. If President Obama’s approval ratings continue to fall, Scott will profit at the polls.”

The poll of 401 likely voters, was taken from March 16-19 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.
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A poll from St. Leo University released on Wednesday shows former Gov. Charlie Crist’s lead over Gov. Rick Scott shrinking. Back in December, a St. Leo poll had Crist with 46 percent while Scott took 34 percent. The new poll has Crist with 43 percent while Scott takes 39 percent. Scott does much better when matched against former state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich. The Republican takes 40 percent while Rich garners 32 percent.

“Our polling shows good news for Gov. Scott, as he’s been able to take a sizable chunk out of Charlie Crist’s lead,” said Frank Orlando, a political science instructor at St. Leo University. “Gov. Scott has shored up some Republican voters, but he’s also doing about as well among independents and members of the opposing party as Mr. Crist. This is surprising, considering the fact that Crist, a former Republican, was expected to do well among Republicans and independents.”

Scott is above water in the poll, with 48 percent seeing him as favorable and 47 percent as unfavorable. But Scott is upside down when it comes to his performance, with 45 percent approving of him and 47 percent disapproving of him.

The poll of 500 Florida adults, including 401 likely voters, was taken from March 16-19 and had a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.
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A University of North Florida (UNF) poll released on Wednesday shows Florida backs efforts to give veterans in-state tuition for colleges and universities across the Sunshine State. As part of the “Florida GI Bill,” giving veterans in-state tuition was a chief legislative priority for both Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

The poll finds 55 percent of those surveyed strongly support the proposal while 14 percent say they somewhat support it. Only 16 percent say they strongly oppose giving in-state tuition to veterans while 6 percent somewhat oppose the idea.

The poll of 565 Floridians was taken from March 6-16 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.12 percent.
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A University of North Florida (UNF) poll released on Wednesday finds half of Floridians support giving undocumented immigrants in-state tuition but the poll also finds the proposal generates passionate opposition.

The survey shows 33 percent strongly support the proposal to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition while 17 percent say they somewhat support it. But 29 percent strongly oppose the idea and 11 percent somewhat oppose it.

The poll of 565 Floridians was taken from March 6-16 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.12 percent.
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A bill to prohibit minors from using tanning beds passed through the Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday with a 6-2 vote. 

SB 572, sponsored by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, would bar minors from using tanning beds at tanning salons. Sobel, whose husband is a dermatologist, pointed to the increased risk of skin cancer as the primary concern behind the legislation.

Research has increasingly supported that the use of tanning beds increases the risk for melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. SB 572 would place a prohibition on visits to tanning salons by minors, except if physicians prescribe the visits to treat certain medical conditions.

Under current law, minors 14 or older can visit tanning facilities with their parents’ consent, while children under 14 must be accompanied by their parents.
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