Sunshine State News Blogs

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., introduced the “Border State Protection Act" on Tuesday. The freshman Republican’s bill would let border state governors submit their governments’ expenses from dealing with the flood of illegal immigrants to the federal government for reimbursement. Yoho’s proposal also ensures the states flexibility to ensure the federal government doesn’t sue them over their handling of illegal immigration.

“The Obama administration has failed to achieve operational control of our southern border while simultaneously enticing individuals to make the dangerous journey to America,” Yoho said on Tuesday, before taking aim at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for suing Arizona over its immigration law. “We have also seen our very own attorney general sue a governor, who was trying to protect the state’s own citizens. Since when does the federal government sue a state for doing a job our government should be doing anyway?

“The governors of our southwest border states are bearing the brunt of the current immigration crisis, and they are receiving little if no help from the federal government,” Yoho added. “Essentially, the administration has left them high and dry. I believe we should empower our governors to take the necessary steps to deal with this crisis, which is on their doorstep. The bill I have introduced will accomplish this goal.”

Yoho noted that, under his bill, immigration costs incurred by the states would be shifted from funds going to the White House.

“Due to the influx of people, the financial burden the states are incurring is substantial,” Yoho said. “Under my bill, they will be able to submit a report to Congress detailing these incurred costs. The total costs in these reports will primarily be repaid to the border states directly from the executive office of the president and funds appropriated to the president. The remaining amounts, if any, will be repaid from nonsecurity foreign aid to Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Taxpayers should not have to bear the brunt of the president’s failed policies.

“The crisis on our southern border is not only a humanitarian issue, it is a national security issue, as well,” Yoho said in conclusion. “We must gain operational control of our borders. The states in the southwest United States are being overwhelmed. If the governors want to fill the leadership void left by the administration, they should be able to do just that without being held to task by their own government.”
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Charlie Crist unveiled a new policy plan to promote middle-class jobs and opportunity on Tuesday. 

Crist's "Fair Shot Plan" outlines several policies he promises to enact if elected governor: restoring public school funding, raising the minimum wage, creating a student loan forgiveness program and extending health care coverage across the state.

The plan also criticizes Gov. Rick Scott for cutting education funds and refusing to develop a high-speed rail system from Tampa to Orlando. 

The plan reads:

"The Crist vision is different. Charlie believes Florida’s economy works best when we build it from the middle-class out, not the top down. He understands that 99 percent of businesses are small businesses – homegrown businesses right here in our state, creating jobs right here in our communities. He knows that the road to long-term growth isn’t paved with massive tax giveaways to lure a handful of jobs here, but rather by creating a pipeline of opportunity for our residents and small businesses.
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The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) announced on Tuesday it was endorsing U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., for another term in Congress. Crenshaw faces former Navy Captain Ryman Shoaf, a former staffer for U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., in the Republican primary on Aug. 26.

Lisa Goeas, the vice president of political operations for the NFIB, wrote Crenshaw and praised his record.

"Your election is not only critical to the small-business owners is your district, but also to protecting free enterprise across America,” Goeas noted. “On behalf of all NFIB members, we look forward to standing with you as you continue to stand with small business.”

"Businesses in Northeast Florida and across the nation have my commitment that I will continue to support policies to help them grow and thrive -- keeping taxes low, reducing government red tape, and repealing Obamacare are a few examples,” Crenshaw replied. “Thank you NFIB for your backing and strong voice for the job generators of our country. I look forward to working with you in the years ahead."
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U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., praised the GOP-led House on Friday for passing bills on immigration, while hammering the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“On Friday, the House passed legislation to address the crisis at the southern border,” DeSantis insisted on Monday. DeSantis said allowing the National Guard to protect the border will reduce illegal immigration. and claiming the legislation would ensure President Barack Obama would not be able to offer amnesty to illegals.

“The Senate left town without doing anything to address the issue,” DeSantis added. “I believe the Senate should come back to Washington during the August recess to pass these measures.”

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With reports that some insurance rates will go up due to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law, Gov. Rick Scott is looking to tie former Gov. Charlie Crist to it. Scott rose to political prominence by leading Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR) against Obama’s proposal.

“Obamacare is a bad law that just seems to be getting worse,” Scott said on Monday. “First, the president said you could keep your doctor. That wasn’t true. Then, he said you could keep your insurance plan if you liked it. That wasn’t true, either. Now, another broken promise -- Florida families are going to be slammed with higher costs. Obamacare has failed to live up to its promises in nearly every way. I wonder which part of this disaster Charlie Crist thinks is ‘great.’"
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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released a TV ad in Spanish on Tuesday on behalf of Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election efforts. The ad features businessman Hector Marulanda who notes in the commercial that his  Impel America Appliances in Doral added workers, doubling its staff, due to Scott’s economic policy.

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Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera contrasted Scott’s record with that of former Gov. Charlie Crist. Despite having spent most of his political life as a Republican, Crist is the favorite to win the Aug. 26 Democratic nomination primary to challenge Scott.

“Under Gov. Scott, over 620,000 private-sector jobs have been created and small-business owners like Hector have had the opportunity to employ more Floridians,” Lopez-Cantera said on Tuesday. “When Florida lost 830,000 jobs and saw its unemployment rate triple, Charlie Crist ran away and left Floridians without jobs or opportunities. Crist’s record of failure is a great contrast with Gov. Scott’s record of success. Hector’s story is a testament that Gov. Scott’s policies are working for Floridians.”
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Another South Florida judge has struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. 

Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen ruled Monday that Florida's 2008 ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. 

“This court believes that the issue here is not whether there is a right to same-sex marriage but instead whether there is a right to marriage from which same-sex couples can be excluded," Cohen wrote in his ruling. "The state of Florida cannot ignore the status and dignity afforded to opposite-sex couples, who were married out-of-state, and not extend those same rights, dignities and benefits to same-sex couples similarly situated.”

The case in Broward County does not deal with the right to marry, but rather the state's recognition of a same-sex marriage performed in another state. The case deals with a Vermont woman, Heather Brassner, who filed a civil union with another woman, Megan Lade, in 2002, two years before gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts. Same-sex marriage became legal in Vermont in 2009.

Brassner says Lade later disappeared -- and now she's got a new partner she'd like to marry. One big problem: Florida doesn't recognize the Vermont civil union, and so Brassner can't be granted a divorce.

Cohen's ruling isn't the first to rock Florida's marriage rift. Last month, a Monroe County judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
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The  Florida Medical Association (FMA) announced on Monday it was strongly opposed to Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. If the amendment gets 60 percent of support on the November ballot, it will pass.

“Providing compassionate care to our patients is something we do every day,” said Dr. Alan Pillersdorf, the president of the FMA, on Monday. “We believe the unintended consequences of Amendment 2 are serious and numerous enough for us to believe they constitute a public health risk for Floridians. The lack of clear definitions in the amendment would allow health-care providers with absolutely no training in the ordering of controlled substances, to order medical marijuana.

“As an association that represents more than 20,000 physicians, we have come together to reject an amendment that does not have the proper regulations in place, approves an unsafe method of drug delivery and puts a substance that has drug-abuse potential in the hands of Floridians, if approved in November. FMA also rejects a process whereby initiatives to approve medicines are decided by methods other than careful science-based review,” Pillersdorf added. “We recommend that other physician organizations and their members responsibly reject this amendment, which would provide improper access to cannabis and cannabis-based products.”
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With a special session starting Thursday as the Florida Legislature tries to redraw congressional districts by Aug. 15, much of the work will be done at the committee level.

In the Senate, Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, will be leading the select committee on redistricting as chairman. Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, will be the vice chairman. Other members of the committee are Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, and Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.

On the House side, Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Lutz, who is scheduled to take over as speaker after the 2016 elections, will be chairing the select committee on redistricting. Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, will be the vice chairman. Other Republicans on the committee are: Rep. Matthew Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, Rep. Larry Metz, R-Groveland, Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Hialeah, Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, and Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa.

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, will take a break from his primary battle against former DCF Secretary George Sheldon -- to see which Democrat challenges Attorney General Pam Bondi in November -- to serve on the committee. Other Democrats on the committee are: Rep. Lori Berman, D-Boynton Beach, Rep. Reggie Fullwood, D-Jacksonville, Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, and Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami.
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On Monday, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, officially called a special session to redraw congressional districts after a Leon County circuit judge ruled their previous efforts failed to pass constitutional muster.

Leon County Judge Terry Lewis ordered the Legislature on Friday to draw up new maps by Aug. 15. Last month, Lewis ruled in favor of the League of Women Voters which challenged the congressional districts drawn up by the Legislature in 2012, arguing they did not meet the standards mandated by two state constitutional amendments voters passed in 2010.

In response, the legislative leaders called the Legislature into a special session starting on Thursday with committee meetings scheduled for Friday. Despite the looming primaries some incumbents are facing on Aug. 26, Gaetz and Weatherford told legislators on Monday that they should expect to be in Tallahassee most of next week. The special session is scheduled to end on Friday, Aug. 15.

Gaetz and Weatherford continued to oppose Lewis’ suggestion that a special election could be held after the regular election in November.

“We continue to maintain our strong objection to any attempt to disrupt the current election process,” Gaetz and Weatherford wrote in a memo accompanying the special session declaration. “Florida’s supervisors of elections have raised serious concerns over changing the elections process at this late date. The NAACP also pointed out in their motion to Judge Lewis that, ‘In a special election, get-out-the-vote infrastructure simply does not exist. Voters who face challenges to political participation – be it financial, job scheduling, transportation, or other impediments – will be irreparably harmed by conducting the election at a time where that infrastructure does not exist.'”

Noting that many ballots have already been sent out for the primary later this month, Gaetz and Weatherford stressed they would look to ensure congressional redistricting did not impact the current elections.

“Tens of thousands of our service men and women overseas have received their ballots, and over 1 million absentee ballots have been mailed to Floridians,” Gaetz and Weatherford noted. “We intend to vigorously defend the integrity and validity of Floridians’ votes that have already been cast, and that will be cast in the upcoming election."

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Florida TaxWatch released a report on Monday which finds tourism led to almost 76,000 jobs being added to the Sunshine State last year. The report also shows Florida is well-positioned to bring 100 million visitors next year, adding even more jobs across the state.

"Florida's thriving tourism industry provides extraordinary opportunities for economic growth," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, on Monday. "By increasing the number of visitors to Florida, the state is on track to reach this important milestone, providing jobs to hard-working taxpayers along the way."

Florida TaxWatch’s study shows more tourists come to Florida with each passing year, leading in 2013 to almost 38,400 jobs directly from tourism and almost 37,400 additional jobs outside the industry.

"Florida's tourism industry is responsible for far more than lowering the tax burden for the state's residents," said Jerry Parrish, Florida TaxWatch’s chief economist. "Expanding tourism has a direct impact on job creation in the state, and the economic impact can be felt in many of Florida's other industries."

The report can be read here.
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Media reports emerged this weekend noting that the Obama administration authorized sending young people from Latin America to Cuba to push for more democracy under the cover of doing work for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on health issues and other matters.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., a longtime critic of the Castro regime, supported USAID’s role and said the media should look more closely at the communist government’s policies.

"The fact that USAID is using measures to promote democracy in Cuba is no secret,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Sunday. “We must continue to pressure the Castro regime and support the Cuban people, who are oppressed on a daily basis. I wish the press would dedicate more of their time to reporting the rampant human rights abuses in Cuba, perpetrated by the Castro regime, instead of manipulating the coverage of programs promoting freedom of expression and justice on the island."
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After Republicans controlling the U.S. House passed immigration bills on Friday, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.,  said the GOP had sent a clear message to President Barack Obama on the matter, including cutting off potential amnesty plans from the White House.

"This combination of bills strengthens the border, allows governors to mobilize their National Guard, and stops loopholes in our current immigration law,” Yoho said on Friday. “The border bill is a stronger bill than we had before us yesterday, and combined with the bill that ends administrative amnesty is a strong signal to the White House and the Senate that the House of Representatives will not tolerate the flagrant dismissal of our rule of law.
“We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws,” Yoho added. “To allow folks to cut in line flies in the face of the very foundation of our country -- the American dream. The American dream is built on the notion that if you work hard and follow the rule of law, you will find success regardless of your country of origin, economic status, gender or religion. The combination of bills today stops the president from using his pen to circumvent the rule of law to give amnesty and gives our border the protection it needs."
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Getting ready for the general election, Gov. Rick Scott is turning toward the environment as he starts his “Let’s Keep Florida Beautiful” tour on Monday. Scott is pointing toward his plan to send $500 million for alternative waters, $500 million for springs and his efforts for the Everglades. The governor is also calling for the state Department of Environmental Protection to increase fines on polluters.

“Florida’s natural beauty is a big reason why this is the best state in the country to call home,” Scott said on Sunday. “Our natural resources are the foundation of our economy – they drive tourism, housing, business, and agriculture – and they deserve our long-term commitment. We’ve made record investments in Florida’s environment, but there’s more work to be done. With a $1 billion investment in Florida’s waters, an ongoing commitment to the Everglades, and tougher penalties for bad actors, we’ll ensure that Florida’s treasures are protected for generations to come.”

Scott is scheduled to hit Jupiter and Palm City on Monday as he starts his tour.
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Blaise Ingoglia, Republican Party of Florida vice chairman and hopeful candidate, has received the endorsement of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, adding to his already long list of support in his quest to take over the House District 35 seat, which covers most of Hernando County. 

Ingoglia was one of several general election candidates to be endorsed by the Chamber, with nearly all candidates being Republicans.

“Interviewing candidates to determine where they stand on free-enterprise issues is essential to helping ensure we endorse candidates who aren’t afraid to make bold pro-jobs, pro-business decisions once they are elected to office,” said Marian Johnson, senior vice president of political operations for the Chamber. “The Florida Chamber’s thorough and intense endorsement process sends a very strong signal that Florida families and small businesses can feel confident in supporting these candidates.”

Said Ingoglia of the endorsement:

"I’m honored to have the endorsement of the Florida Chamber. Their pro-jobs, pro-business agenda echoes our campaign message, ‘It’s about Jobs.’ We understand that greater fiscal responsibility and less regulation in government lead to a stronger economy and middle class. I appreciate their support and look forward to working with them to ensure that Florida is destination No. 1 for families and small businesses.”
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Rasmussen Reports released a poll on Friday which finds Gov. Rick Scott edging leading Democratic rival former Gov. Charlie Crist by a whisker. The poll of likely voters shows Scott taking 42 percent, Crist garnering 41 percent, 8 percent backing other candidates and 9 percent still undecided.

A Rasmussen Poll from April had Crist leading 45 percent to 39 percent for Scott.

The poll of 900 likely Florida voters was taken on July 29-July 30 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
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Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis threw a bombshell into Florida politics on Friday as he ordered the Legislature to present a new map of congressional districts by Aug. 15 and demanded special elections. Last month, Lewis ruled that two congressional seats -- those held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla. -- failed to meet constitutional muster, namely with the Fair District amendments passed by voters in 2010.

The Legislature would need to meet in special session to draw up the new maps, which could pose a problem with legislators facing primaries on Aug. 26 and the general election. While in session, legislators are barred from fundraising.  

Legislative leaders said before the ruling they were open to redistricting but looked to hold off on special elections this year. They are expected to appeal Lewis’ decision, at least on the special election requirement.
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U.S. Sen. Bernie Miller and U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. -- the chairmen of their respective chambers’ Veterans Affairs Committee, reforming the U.S. Veterans Affairs department -- are sending $17 billion to help its medical facilities.  

The new funds, which will be used over the next three years, come in the aftermath of reports across the nation detailing altered wait lists at VA facilities. As a result, Eric Shinseki resigned his post as VA secretary back in May.

The proposal passed the House earlier in the week and passed the Senate 91-3 on Thursday.

Miller cheered the news as the bill now heads to President Barack Obama.

“Sen. Sanders and his colleagues deserve credit for taking action to address VA’s delays in care and accountability crises,” Miller said. “We are now just one signature away from making government more accountable and providing veterans with real choice in their health care decisions. I am confident the president will do the right thing and sign this bill into law.”
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,  launched the “Palestinian and United Nations Anti-Terrorism Act of 2014” on Thursday. Rubio’s bill would cut off American funds to the Palestinian Authority, United Nations Human Rights Council, and other U.N. operations in the Middle East until they stop working with Hamas.

“The United Nations has turned a blind eye to Hamas’ use of its facilities to terrorize Israel,” said Rubio. “But the targeting of innocent Israelis by Hamas and other terrorist groups cannot be denied, and it cannot be ignored – not by the United Nations, and certainly not by America. So long as the Palestinian Authority refuses to dissolve its current government with Hamas, and the United Nations continues to allow its facilities to be used to conduct terrorism, U.S. assistance to these entities needs to reflect our concerns about their behavior.”
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On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, to introduce a bill putting sanctions on Russia for violating the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Rubio’s bill would impose sanctions and stop nuclear cooperation with Russia until it is back in compliance with the treaty. The proposal would also ensure the U.S. researches its own intermediate-range weapons, which is allowed under the INF treaty.

“Russia has become a rogue actor on the world stage, with no regard for upholding its international obligations and basic norms,” said Rubio. “Russia’s recent violation of a decades-old arms control treaty that was negotiated to eliminate an entire class of missiles that threatened our allies and deployed forces cannot go unanswered.

“This legislation is urgently needed to ensure that the United States is prepared for any outcome from this blatant treaty violation and that the administration adequately responds,” Rubio insisted.
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The Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) took aim at Amendment 2, a proposed amendment to the state Constitution which will allow more medical marijuana options in Florida. A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week found 88 percent of Floridians support medical marijuana though the survey did not focus on Amendment 2. The poll also showed 55 percent of Florida voters backed the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

“Regardless of any state laws, recreational marijuana use is still illegal on the federal level because of its high potential for abuse and the fact that there is no currently accepted national standard for use as a medical treatment,” said Chief Frank Kitzerow, the president of the FPCA, on Thursday. “It’s important to understand that expanding the use of marijuana for medical purposes is not a safer way to use the drug.”

Kitzerow pointed to studies which “show that marijuana use and criminal involvement – other than drug use – are highly related” and car accidents involving marijuana after Colorado legalized it for medicinal reasons.
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Florida TaxWatch and the Florida Ports Council reviewed port governance, examining how the Sunshine State’s ports were doing as they ready for the Panama Canal expansion.

"Florida seaports are performing very well under a decentralized governance model, managing and meeting their local needs while implementing a state level strategy to holistically enhance Florida's economic climate," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, on Thursday.
"What this data shows is that Florida ports already share the characteristics that determine long-term success for ports around the world," said Doug Wheeler, the president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council. "We are always looking for opportunities to improve and will continue to strive toward increases in efficiency and innovation."
The two groups looked at other states with decentralized ports and found they were some of the best run in the nation. The report can be read here.

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From his seat on the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., said he supports the VA reform agreement crafted by his chairman, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

“The emergency legislation unveiled today helps clear the veteran wait lists and eliminating those waits must be a priority, which is why I’m calling on Congress to act this week and approve this bill before the start of the August district work period,” said Jolly on Tuesday.

“This bill is a good first step and provides some immediate relief,” Jolly added. “But we must continue working on a long-term solution to this crisis. We need to give every veteran a choice card so they have complete control of their health care, and if they want to go outside the VA system to a private provider they can do so.”
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The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) endorsed banker Jay Fant over attorney and veteran Paul Renner in one of the most competitive Republican legislative primaries in Florida. Fant and Renner are running for the Florida House seat currently held by Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, who did not run for a third term so he could lead the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. The seat represents parts of Duval County, including Jacksonville's Westside.

““Jay’'s business experience in the district has given him an understanding of the issues facing Florida'’s small-business owners, and his focus on reducing taxes and regulations, enacting lawsuit reform, and eliminating the roadblocks hindering small-business growth show that he'’s committed to helping Florida'’s job creators,”” said Bill Herrle, the executive director of the Florida NFIB, on Tuesday. ““Jay is the best candidate in the district who is fully devoted to supporting small business in the Florida House, and we feel he can provide steady leadership to ensure that Florida maintains its pro-business climate.” Jay’'s emphasis on reducing the burdens placed on small-business owners shows his dedication to helping entrepreneurs succeed.”

“"As a career small-business man, I am honored by NFIB's endorsement," said Fant. “"Their commitment to conservative principles, limited government, and free enterprise match up with mine, and I look forward to working closely with them in the Florida Legislature. By reducing taxes and reshaping our regulatory structure to work with businesses instead of against them, we will create an economic environment in which everyone can succeed."
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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released a digital ad on Wednesday which has former Gov. Charlie Crist debating himself. The ad showcases Crist, the favorite to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in next month’s primary despite spending most of his political life in the GOP, taking both sides of positions on Obamacare, taxes, the Cuba embargo, same-sex marriage and other issues.

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“Charlie Crist is a skilled debater – that happens when you debate yourself every day because you’ve been on both sides of every issue,” said RPOF Chairwoman Leslie Dougher on Wednesday before calling on Crist to debate his primary opponent. “So why not debate Sen. Nan Rich? What does he have to hide? He’s had more than enough practice.”
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On Wednesday, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) endorsed Gov. Rick Scott for re-election.

“There is no question this governor understands the importance of tourism and the vital role the hospitality industry plays in job creation and economic development,” said Carol Dover, the president and CEO of the FRLA. “On behalf of our more than 10,000 members representing hoteliers, restaurateurs and suppliers, we are thrilled to give our strongest of endorsements to Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera this election cycle.”

“Gov. Scott led the charge in securing $75 million for Visit Florida tourism marketing, and $700,000 for our Hospitality Education Program (HEP) which helps train the next generation of industry professionals,” said James McManemon, the general manager of the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island and the 2014 chairman of the FRLA. “His goal in attracting 100 million visitors to our state is one that FRLA not only supports, but is working together in providing both residents and tourists the best possible experience in our hotels, our restaurants and all that Florida has to offer.”

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Florida Sen. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, wants answers on All Aboard Florida’s lease with the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority. Altman is asking Attorney General Pam Bondi for her opinion on the lease, especially as the senators says the lease ensures All Aboard Florida’s trains won’t stop in Brevard and Indian River counties.

“The practical application is there will never be stops in Brevard and Indian River counties if they have to make up for revenue lost from the tolls not collected due to the decreased automobiles traveling to Orlando,” Altman said. That is an extra-territorial tax imposed by the Expressway Authority.

“It also concerns me greatly that the citizens of the Space and Treasure coasts are not represented on the Expressway Authority,” Altman added.  “I no longer call it All Aboard Florida but ‘Not Onboard Florida.’”
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U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., is the chief backer of the  “Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) which creates tax-free saving accounts for disabled Americans. Crenshaw’s proposal has 375 House co-sponsors and 74 backers in the Senate but it has made little progress in Congress since it was first brought out in 2006.

But that could be changing. Crenshaw announced on Tuesday that the ABLE Act will be facing a vote on the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday.

“More than three-quarters of the members of the House and Senate have co-sponsored this landmark bill, and a July 24 Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing shed more light on the need for the ABLE Act,” said Crenshaw. “Now, on Thursday, July 31, the House Ways and Means Committee will consider the legislation. Step by step, with focus and determination, we are adding more information to the record and further opening the door to turn ABLE from legislation into the law of the land. We will level the playing field for individuals with disabilities and their families so they can take advantage of the same financial planning tools that are available to other Americans.”
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Former state Rep. Carl Domino, running in the Republican primary to take on U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., launched a new TV ad commercial on Tuesday. In the new ad, Domino focuses on his biography, including his service in the military and his success in the private sector. This marks Domino’s first TV ad of the campaign.

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Basking in the glow of a Quinnipiac poll showing him taking 9 percent against Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, Libertarian gubernatorial nominee Adrian Wyllie plans to tour Florida in August, hitting craft breweries across the Sunshine State.

"We are taking our grassroots campaign on the road to meet Floridians, to show them that I’m for real, and that this is truly a three-way race for governor,” said Wyllie on Wednesday.

“With Adrian’s climbing poll numbers and major press coverage, the timing of this tour couldn’t be better,” said Danielle Alexandre, Wyllie’s campaign manager. “People across the state are very excited about it.”

Wyllie is touring the breweries to turn the spotlight to small businesses which he says the major parties have hurt.

“As a small-business owner, I know firsthand the obstacles government places in our path, and how they can crush an entire industry with the stroke of a pen,” said Wyllie, “If we truly want to restore the economy and create real jobs, we first have to get government out of our way … and that’s what I intend to do as governor.
“We certainly don’t have a 60-foot tour bus, we won’t be staying at five-star hotels, and we’ll probably be eating at IHOP,” Wyllie added. “But, that doesn’t matter to us. What’s important is that the people of Florida know that they have a third choice in this election … and a chance to end the corruption, and to restore economic freedom and individual liberty.”
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