Almost 300,000 Floridians had signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act as of Feb. 1, federal officials announced on Wednesday. Nearly 3.3 million people had signed up for President Barack Obama's signature health-care plan in total.
People aged 18 to 34 accounted for about a quarter of the sign-ups. The majority of sign-ups, however, came from those aged 55 to 64.
The numbers seem to indicate that Obamacare is picking up steam, but Wednesday's numbers still don’t show how many of the people who have signed up have actually paid their premium. One in every five Floridians is currently uninsured.
Obamacare made its debut in October but got off to a rocky start when its website, Healthcare.gov, was littered with technical issues leaving many unable to sign up for health care insurance. The website was later fixed and enrollment numbers began to improve beginning in December.
The Obama administration initially aimed to have 7 million people enrolled by the end of March, but the Congressional Budget Office lowered its projected forecast to 6 million due to the website's malfunctions.
Open enrollment in Obamacare plans ends March 31.
Sunshine State News Blogs
After being named National Superintendent of the Year on Thursday, Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho received high words of praise from Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart.
“I am glad that the nation can see what we in Florida and in Miami-Dade have known for years: Alberto’s dedication to serving students is truly exceptional," said Stewart. "He has made innovative steps in a variety of areas that have proven to be models for districts around the country. Most important, he understands that excellence comes by ensuring each student has the tools to succeed in college, career and life. Congratulations to Alberto and all of the staff and teachers in Miami-Dade.”
Carvalho was selected from four finalists for the award. Carvalho was named Florida's Superintendent of the Year in December.
“Being named National Superintendent of the Year is truly a great honor, but I realize it’s not simply an honor for me,” Carvalho said. “Today’s recognition reflects the dedication, sacrifice, and work of every member of our education family, as well as the guidance and direction of our School Board, and I share this award with every teacher, student, employee, and community partner of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.”
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 5 percent of American adults consider Valentine’s Day one of the nation’s most important holidays. Most -- 63 percent -- rank it among the least important holidays, while 31 percent say it’s somewhere in-between.
Twenty-eight percent of adults say they look forward to Valentine’s Day while 19 percent dread it. Over half -- 51 percent -- say Feb. 14 is just another day -- they neither look forward to nor dread the holiday.
According to the poll, men are more than twice as likely as women to dread Valentine’s Day, while women are just slightly more likely to look forward to it. Married adults tend to be more likely to look forward to the holiday, while unmarried adults are more likely to dread it.
The survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted Feb. 9-10. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
Gov. Rick Scott hit the national airwaves on Thursday, appearing on Fox Business Network to showcase Florida’s economy and to take aim at President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“Florida’s going to continue to do well because we have lower taxes, we have less regulation,” Scott said as he pointed to companies continuing to invest in Florida. “We’ve got the expansion of the Panama Canal. We’re the gateway to Latin America. But the country is going to hurt, unless we get less taxes out of the federal government, less regulation out of the federal government. It’s all those things the federal government is doing that are hurting jobs. We are continuing to prosper because[of] no income tax, a right-to-work state, the gateway to Latin America. Look at our weather. People want to be in our state.”
Scott also cited education gains in Florida and contrasted how the state government was handling the economy to the federal government.
“We’re going to continue to win but the federal government has got to change,” Scott said. “We need lower taxes out of the federal government, less regulation, less Obamacare. We need to have changed a federal government. But Florida, we’re doing great.”
Republicans are pouncing on a comment made by former state CFO Alex Sink which will air Sunday on the Tampa Bay Times‘ “Political Connections.” Sink is the Democratic candidate in a special election being held for an open congressional seat in Pinellas County. She faces Republican David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 election.
Asked about a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that fewer Americans would be in the workforce due to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Sink insisted the increase of part-time workers as full-time employees lost hours due to the law, offered “more freedom” and “more choice” and even called it an “exciting prospect.”
Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), quickly went on the attack.
“Alex Sink is out-of-touch with Pinellas families if she thinks costing our economy over 2 million jobs is an ‘exciting prospect.’ The last thing Pinellas County needs in Congress is a career politician who will stand with Nancy Pelosi to protect Obamacare while it hurts seniors, middle class families and costs us jobs,” said Prill on Friday.
Pro-casinos group Best for Florida today responded to those opposed to "a badly needed overhaul of Florida’s patchwork gaming policy" – reforms that would boost Florida’s economy and stop the “gaming creep” free-for-all that has plagued the state.
“When people say ‘no casinos,’ they are really saying ‘more gambling,’ as they double down on the status quo. They are supporting the preservation of a broken policy that has allowed the expansion of gambling across the state, often without legislative approval,” said AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney. AIF is the sponsor of Best for Florida.
“Crafty attorneys have played games with the system and have exploited loopholes in Florida’s hodgepodge policy to bring even more gambling into our state. It’s time for Florida’s leaders to step up and fix the broken system and do it in a way that creates jobs and promotes the convention and trade show economy in South Florida with the establishment of Integrated Resorts.”
“It is time for smart gaming reforms that promote job creation and establish common-sense gaming laws,” added Brewster Bevis, AIF senior vice president for state and federal affairs. “We need to restore the Legislature to its proper role as deciders of the state’s gaming policies and ensure that we don’t leave room for clever lawyering and the exploitation of piece-meal regulations.”
Sunshine State News will have more coverage Friday morning.
No Casinos trotted out some of the biggest names in Florida politics on Thursday as it continued to fight against expanded casino gambling in the Sunshine State. The No Casinos Statesmen’s Council includes three governors in Democrats Bob Graham and Wayne Mixon and Republican Jeb Bush, and two U.S. senators in Graham and current U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
Also on board are former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and three Republicans currently serving in the Florida Cabinet: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida’s CFO Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Other members include former state CFO Tom Gallagher and three former speakers of the Florida House in Democrat James Harold Thompson, Larry Cretul and Dean Cannon.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist might like former Gov. Jeb Bush but he would back former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Bush in the 2016 presidential election.
Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November, despite spending most of his political career as a Republican, appears on Thursday night’s edition of “Politicking with Larry King” on Ora.tv.
“You admired former Gov. Jeb Bush, did you not?” King asked Crist.
“I still do, yes sir, that’s right,” Crist replied.
“If he was running against Hillary, and you were governor of Florida, who would you support?” King asked.
“Well, if I win, I’m going to be a Democrat,” Crist said. “I think that Jeb would make a good president. I think Hillary would make a great president."
“You would support Hillary?” King asked.
“Yes, correct,” Crist.
“As a Democrat?” King asked.
“I like great better than good, as a Democrat, as an American, as a Floridian,” Crist replied.
After leaving the GOP to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Crist joined the Democrats in Decmeber 2012.
The polls keep coming in the special congressional election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla.
St. Leo University released a poll on Thursday which shows former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democrat in the race, takes 46 percent while Republican David Jolly takes 37 percent and Libertarian Lucas Overby garners 12 percent. The Tampa Bay times released a poll on Wednesday night showing Sink with a smaller lead and St. Pete Polls and St. PetersBlog unveiled a poll on Thursday which had Jolly up by a small margin. Both of the other polls found Overby polling in single digits.
The St. Leo poll shows 88 percent of Democrats are backing Sink but only 64 percent of Republicans are behind Jolly as 16 percent of them are for Sink and 14 percent back Overby.
“Ms. Sink’s advantage is being driven by solid favorability ratings coupled with issue positions that seem to be more closely aligned with voter preferences than are Jolly’s,” said Frank Orlando who teaches political science at Saint Leo. “She overcomes a partisan ID disadvantage in the district by maintaining much higher favorability among Republicans and independents than Mr. Jolly does among Democrats. The fact that a Libertarian candidate has robust support levels in the double digits seems to be contributing to the size of Sink’s lead.
“Jolly is not only leaking Republican voters to Alex Sink, but also to David Overby,” added Orlando. “Traditionally, Libertarian candidates have siphoned off more support from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, and this is the case here. Despite being outspent and advertised, Overby’s presence in the televised debate has increased his visibility, but it remains to be seen if he can maintain this support to Election Day.”
The poll of 400 likely voters was taken from Feb. 9-11 and had a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continues to go to bat for U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who is running against U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in one of the most competitive Senate races in the nation.
Rubio sent out an email to supporters of his Reclaim America PAC on Thursday, urging supporters to back Cotton.
“It’s official,” Rubio emailed supporters on Thursday. “Democrats and their liberal interest group allies are going to spend whatever they can to try and stop Tom Cotton from being elected to the U.S. Senate. Right now, hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on television ads attacking Tom.”
Rubio insisted Cotton is “the kind of conservative we need in the U.S. Senate to help repeal and replace Obamacare and stand up to the big spenders in Washington.”
St. Pete Polls released a poll taken for Saint PetersBlog on Thursday which finds Republican David Jolly with a small lead in the special congressional election for the seat held for decades by the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla.
Jolly leads with 46 percent while former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democrat in the race, is right behind him with 44 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby garners 6 percent while 3 percent are still undecided.
The poll of 1,130 registered voters in the district was taken on Feb. 12 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.
The Tampa Bay Times released a poll late on Wednesday night which shows Sink taking 42 percent while Jolly has 35 percent.
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., offered a contrast between past leaders and the current crop of politicians in an early Presidents' Day message. Despite losing to Democrat Patrick Murphy in 2012, West has opened the door to a political comeback in 2016.
“As we head into Presidents' Day weekend, we remember some of America's greatest leaders – George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan,” West emailed supporters on Thursday. “Unfortunately, we're also reminded of the lackluster leaders in Washington today.”
West pointed toward fewer members of Congress having served in the military than was the case 40 years ago and insisted there was a connection between a decline in the quality of our leaders. “It's time to restore common-sense, conservative leadership in our government," West insisted, adding his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC will support “14 hard-charging conservatives” in November’s elections.
A Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/WUSF Public Media released late on Wednesday night shows former state CFO Alex Sink out in front in the special election for an open Pinellas County congressional race. Sink, the Democrat, takes 42 percent while Republican David Jolly garners 35 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby takes 4 percent.
The poll of 603 likely voters was taken by Braun Research from Feb. 4-9 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
The Florida House of Representatives Appropriations Committee passed a series of bills Wednesday aimed at strengthening laws to protect children from sexually violent predators.
It's part of the Legislature’s Work Plan 2014 “Protecting Florida’s Vulnerable” initiative.
Bills included in the House’s initiative to deal with violent predators are the following:
-- HB 7013 requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to notify victims and the Department of Corrections (DOC) of the release of all persons in the custody of DCF – not just those committed as sexually violent predators. The bill also requires DCF to provide such notice to sheriffs in the county in which the person intends to reside or, if unknown, in the county in which the person was last convicted.
-- HB 7025 strengthens the registration requirements applicable to sexual predators and offenders to bring those requirements further in line with the federal Adam Walsh Act.
-- HB 7017 ensures that the probationary period of an offender in DCF’s custody pursuant to the Jimmy Ryce Act does not begin until the person is released from DCF’s custody.
-- HB 7019 closes a loophole by creating a process by which persons sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a jail can be referred to DCF for civil commitment.
-- HB 7027 increases the penalties for specified sexual battery and lewd or lascivious offenses against children; increases to 50 years the minimum mandatory sentence for dangerous sexual felony offenders; requires the court to impose a split sentence in which an offender convicted of specified sexual offenses is sentenced to 2 years of community supervision after serving his or her term of imprisonment; and creates a new sentencing multiplier for specified adult-on-minor sexual offenses.
-- HB 7021 raises standards and increases accountability in the DCF evaluation process for determining whether an offender meets criteria for commitment to the Sexually Violent Predator Program.
Said Matt Gaetz, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, “To protect our children from harm, the House is working to make Florida the most unfriendly state in the nation for sexually violent predators. Our bipartisan initiative strengthens the state’s laws and closes loopholes to ensure these criminals are punished to the fullest extent and no longer are allowed to slip through the cracks of our criminal justice and civil commitment systems. ..."
Gayle Harrell, chairwoman of the House Healthy Families Subcommittee, said, “The Florida House is taking a significant stand against sexually violent predators. This initiative shows our commitment to ensuring the safety of Florida’s children and families. ..."
Almost 300,000 Floridians had signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act as of Feb. 1, federal officials announced on Wednesday. Nearly 3.3 million people had signed up for President Barack Obama's signature health-care plan in total.
According to an email, the Duval GOP will be hosting a "Hey Charlie Party" at the Books-A-Million to welcome Crist to Jacksonville.
Anti-Charlie Crist protesters showed up in Fort Myers earlier this week where Crist kicked off his statewide book tour. Jacksonville is the third stop for Crist's nine-city book tour. Other stops are also planned for Tallahassee, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released a new ad attacking former state CFO Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate in the special election for an open congressional seat in Pinellas County, for supporting President Barack Obama’s health care law. Sink takes on Republican David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 election.
“Alex Sink has made it clear that her loyalty is to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, not Pinellas County families,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC. “Sink continues to support Obamacare even though it’s gutting Medicare, causing Florida families to lose their coverage and costing our economy over 2 million jobs. Pinellas families can’t trust Alex Sink in Congress.”
Whatever you think of Joe Garcia, the Democratic congressman from Miami knows poison when he sees it. And Obamacare isn't a potion he wants to take him out in 2014.
So -- Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Obamacare love letters aside -- in its latest ad, the House PAC supporting Garcia is insulating him against claims he's an Obamacare apologist.
The ad doesn't even mention Garcia's most potent rival, Carlos Curbelo.
This, from the ad's upbeat narrator: “Joe Garcia is working to fix Obamacare. He voted to let you keep your existing health plan and took the White House to task for the disastrous health care website.”
Check out the video here.
"[Crist] basically did nothing to try to help Florida out of its recession," said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who serves as Scott's campaign chairman. "Instead, he abandoned his post and his state [when he ran for United States Senate].
"He's cast himself as a moderate or somebody who's trying to be in the middle, but I think everybody knows in this arena being on both sides of every issue isn't being in the middle, it's basically having no integrity, no core principles ... and saying whatever ... audiences want to hear."
Thrasher also criticized Crist over Scott Rothstein's statements that the former governor had an understanding with Rothstein to appoint judges in return for campaign contributions.
"That's a very serious allegation, and one none of us should take lightly," said Thrasher.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, unveiled a bill earlier this week giving the U.S. secretary of veterans affairs the ability to fire or demote senior VA department officials based on performance. Rubio’s and Miller’s bill would give the VA secretary the ability to fire or demote senior executive service (SES) officials in the department. As of fiscal year 2012, there were 448 SES officials in the department. But now the Senior Executives Association (SEA) which represents federal employees is pushing back
“Not only is this bill a solution in search of a problem, it is unfair and does not further the goal that we all share to ensure the highest quality care for our nation’s veterans,” said SEA President Carol Bonosaro. “Further, nearly one third of the career members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) working at the VA are themselves veterans. They share a commitment to continued public service, and it is a shame that the very committee that is looking for ways to increase the presence of veterans in the federal workforce would now enable firing those at the highest career levels without any due process whatsoever.”
The SEA argued this would give SES workers less job protection than other federal employees and would subject them to political pressure.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued his calls for higher education reform on Wednesday as he appeared on former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett’s national radio talk-show. Rubio has been making the rounds with the national media after unveiling his proposals for higher education reform at a speech at Miami-Dade College on Monday
“You need more skill than ever before,” Rubio told Bennett about the current job market. “And our system of delivering skills, our education system, is not 21st century. It’s built on 20th century concepts that no longer are truly meeting the needs of our students. So, the single mom with two kids who has to work full-time and raise her family, she has no way to go back to school because there are no programs designed for someone like her, that are flexible enough. The individual who has lost their job, because it was automated or outsourced, needs to be retrained, can’t access the system. And then we have a bunch of young people graduating high school and going into college and getting degrees that don’t lead to jobs. And that’s a big problem because universities are feeding that and they’re giving students no information about their future prospects.
“So one of the proposals I have is that students have a right to know before they go,” Rubio added. “Before you take out a student loan, the school you’re at should tell you, ‘This is how much graduates from our school, with your degree, make.’ So you can make an informed decision about whether it’s worth taking out, you know, a Greek philosophy degree for a $20,000 loan.”
“This whole venture, tell me about it,” Bennett said. “Because people entering into the debate about higher education are often surprised by what they find. If you walk into the temple, the keepers of the temple do not particularly like it. They don’t take criticism well is what I’ve found.”
“Well they’re very insulated, clearly, because tenure insulates them,” Rubio responded. “They believe they’re above politics in many ways, but ultimately why do we invest in public education in this country? Because it is preparing a workforce. It is human infrastructure preparation that allows us to grow and expand our economy. The 21st century economy looks different than the 20th century economy. It demands a certain type of learning, a certain type of skill acquisition, and we need people to learn this stuff faster than ever before. We have an opportunity gap in America. And I said it in the speech, between haves and have-nots — those that have higher education, or some advanced education, and those that do not have it. The Pew study yesterday found that the gap between college graduates and noncollege graduates on an income basis is as wide as it’s ever been. We can close that gap, but we have got to make higher education more affordable, more flexible, and more available.”
As Winter Storm Pax sweeps across the East Coast, its snow and ice are slushing away flights along with thousands of power lines, leaving many Florida travelers, hoping to head north, stranded.
Travelers attempting air travel out of Tallahassee Wednesday came face to face with a dire departures board, as many connections rely on Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, which cancelled a record number of flights, according to an Atlanta airport spokesman.
Delta Airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights in the Southeast, while Southwest Airlines cut all flights out of Atlanta.
More than 275,000 people have lost power across the Southeast during the start of the storm, which is expected to linger for days and impacted northern parts of Florida.
You knew Jeb Bush would rise up and revolt sooner or later, and sure enough.
Over and over Charlie told the world he sees the Republican Party just like Jeb did.
“Jeb Bush said it better than I can say it,” Crist said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and more than half a dozen national TV talk shows last week. “He said today’s Republican Party is perceived as being anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay couples, anti-environment, anti-education. I mean, pretty soon, there’s nobody left in the room.”
It's the litany the former Republican governor-turned failed independent Senate candidate-turned 2014 Democratic candidate for governor uses to explain why he dumped the Republican Party.
Then, during his book tour, in order to give his remarks some credibility -- or something -- Crist even said Bush would make a fine president.
Are you kidding me? asks the Bush camp incredulously.
“Charlie Crist is a habitual opportunist with zero credibility,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told The Daily Caller. “Florida voters understood that in 2010 and will once again confirm it in November.”
The Daily Caller points out that there's never been any love lost between Team Crist and Team Bush.
"During Florida’s 2010 Senate race, Bush endorsed Marco Rubio, not Crist — though the endorsement came after Crist bolted the Republican Party," explains the newspaper. "But Bush’s son, Jeb Bush Jr., endorsed Rubio early on when Crist was still running as a Republican, which was seen as a signal from Bush world as to which candidate the family was supporting in the Republican primary."
“Charlie Crist has been such a disappointment, because he will shift his position for his own personal ambition,” the elder Jeb Bush said of Crist in 2010 as Election Day approached. “It’s not that he’s serving anybody, it’s serving himself. He’s the most ambitious man I’ve ever met in politics. He believes in absolutely nothing other than — what’s the next step for him in a path.”
Get thee behind me, Charlie Crist.
The Florida delegation split on party lines as the U.S. House voted on Tuesday night to raise the federal debt ceiling with no conditions until March 2015. The measure passed 221-201 with 28 Republicans sticking with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to support it. Only two Democrats joined 199 Republicans in opposing the measure.
Boehner announced to the House Republican caucus at a meeting on Tuesday that he would move to end the three-year battle over the debt ceiling but received little support from his side. Every single Republican from the Florida delegation opposed raising the debt ceiling while all of the Democrats representing the Sunshine State voted to support the proposal.
“Tonight’s vote to raise our debt limit and increase the debt burden on American families was something I could not support,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla. “Time and again, Congress has voted to raise the debt limit without addressing the serious problem of out-of-control government spending. This crushing debt currently exceeds $17 trillion and is increasing at a steady clip. We must ask ourselves at what point will Democrats and Republicans wake up and address this uncontrollable freight train that doesn’t discriminate according to party affiliation and is the biggest threat to our national security.
“I was elected to Congress to work on solutions to decrease the national debt and enact fiscally responsible laws,” Yoho added. “I am and always will be committed to doing this. The future of our country, and the futures of our children and grandchildren depend on what we do here.”
On Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., also explained his opposition to raising the debt ceiling.
"If our nation's $17 trillion of debt were divided up, each person would owe more than $54,000. The debt has almost doubled since 2005,” Ross said. “I have consistently stated that I will not support limitlessly increasing the debt ceiling unless it is coupled with a solid plan to decrease our debt. Presidents throughout history -- including President Obama -- have made concessions when it comes to the debt ceiling, and this time should be no exception, especially when almost half of our debt accrued under President Obama's leadership."
“I am pleased to endorse Blaise Ingoglia for District 35 of the Florida House,” said La Rosa. “His business experience will make him a great asset to the Florida House as we aim to keep Florida moving in the right direction.”
La Rosa is the 21st state legislator to voice his support for Ingoglia.
“I am honored to have the support of Rep. La Rosa,”said Blaise Ingoglia. “Rep. La Rosa is a dedicated leader and a strong advocate for his community. He has quickly earned a reputation as a difference maker and I look forward to serving with him in the Florida House."
With Vice President Joe Biden headed to Florida to help former state CFO Alex Sink raise funds, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is going on the attack. Sink is the Democratic candidate in the special election for an open congressional seat in Pinellas County. She’ll take on Republican David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 election.
“Alex Sink and Joe Biden have a lot in common including their love for President Obama’s dysfunctional health-care law which guts Medicare and is costing our country jobs,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Wednesday. “It’s very clear that Alex Sink has already aligned herself with the most liberal Washington Democrats so it should be no surprise to Pinellas families that she will vote with the most liberal Democrats in Congress.”
Florida Senate President Pro Tempore Garrett Richter, R-Naples, endorsed Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, for the Republican nomination in the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla.
After pleading guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession in November, Radel resigned from Congress at the end of January, leaving a coveted seat in Congress up for grabs.
“I have had the distinct privilege to serve this community with Lizbeth Benacquisto,” Richter said on Tuesday. “Lizbeth is tremendously passionate about standing up for the conservative values we all hold dear. Lizbeth is someone I know and I can trust to be effective, she has earned my respect. I am proud to support her, and know Lizbeth Benacquisto will represent Collier County and all of Southwest Florida in Congress with the dignity and respect we deserve.”
“I am proud to have the support of Sen. Richter. He has proven to Collier and Lee counties that the conservative values we share are getting Florida back on track,” said Benacquisto on the edorsement. “Sen. Richter joins a long list of community leaders who have humbled me with their trust and confidence.”
Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, now the chairman of the Campaign for Liberty after his three presidential bids and retiring from Congress, ripped into Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s new chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, on Tuesday. Yellen testified before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, which Paul served on, on Tuesday.
“Janet Yellen’s testimony confirmed suspicions that she would offer more of the same failed inflationary policies. If I were still in Congress and a member of the Financial Services Committee, I would have asked Chairman Yellen the following questions,” Paul said. “Why should Main Street, as opposed to Wall Street, have any confidence in the Fed considering that last Friday’s jobs report provides more evidence of the failures of Quantitative Easing 1, 2, 3, etc. … to help the average American? Why should anyone give credibility to the statements that the Federal Reserve will continue tapering when both Dr. Yellen and her predecessor have made it clear, by their words and actions, that the Fed will not end easy money policies as long as the stock market and the banks are addicted to the morphine of monetary inflation? Where does the Fed get the moral authority to create money out of thin air, something many equate with counterfeiting, and to fix interest rates? How can a chair of the Fed assume to have the wisdom to know what the money supply and the cost of borrowing (the rate of interest) should be? Is it possible to justify this authority to control one half of every economic transaction in a free market, especially when one looks at the results: depressions, recessions, excessive debt, inflation, bubbles, and the destruction of the middle class?
“I might also suggest that Dr. Yellen should not expect to have a pleasant tenure, as the policies she and her predecessors pursued will likely lead to a financial crisis that could very well dwarf the meltdown of 2008,” Paul added.
On Tuesday, the House Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee advanced a proposal that would allow breweries and beer pubs to sell the 64-ounce and 128-ounce size beer growlers, inching one step closer to ending the ban.
Last year, the bill to legalize beer growlers died a swift death in the Florida Legislature. The same subcommittee rejected a similar proposal that would have allowed the larger beer growlers to be legal in the Sunshine State.
According to Florida law, beer can only be sold in a container of a gallon or more, or 32 ounces or less. Craft beer breweries, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, often sell beer in half-gallon containers called "growlers."
Forty-seven states currently allow the sale of growlers.
A similar bill, SB 406, is currently advancing in the Senate. Another related Senate bill, SB 470, would allow breweries as well as stores like Publix and Costco to offer free beer tastings.
Attorney John Hugh Shannon filed his papers on Monday to run for the House seat currently held by Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, who faces term limits. Shannon is running as a Republican in this district which represents all of Polk County.
On Tuesday, Shannon weighed in on why he was running and pointed toward his service in the Marine Corps.
“The values of faithful service, looking out for the little guy, and the greatness of this nation were instilled in me by my parents and forged in the Marine Corps,” Shannon said. “Sadly, those values sometimes get little attention in government. In their place we get bank bailouts, government takeovers of health care and property insurance, hostility to timeless American traditions, and career politicians.”
“I see this mission as an extension of the oath I took as a young Marine and a calling – not a career,” Shannon added. “I intend to go to Tallahassee and ensure working-class Floridians get a fair shake, government is kept restrained and limited, and we focus on results, rather than who gets credit. One of the first lessons you learn in the Marine Corps is the value of teamwork. I hope to bring some of that ideal to Tallahassee and together – with all citizens of goodwill -- we will leave a country better than we found it for our kids, grandkids, and future generations.”
Community activist Colleen Burton, who worked with Polk Vision, has been in the race since March 2013. Burton lost out to longtime Polk County Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards in the 2012 election cycle. Since entering the race, Burton has been busy, raising almost $64,000 by the end of January and spending almost $9,900 of that.
This is a Republican-leaning district and there are no Democrats in the race to this point. Conservative adoption advocate Franklin Ed Shoemaker is running as the America’s Party candidate, though his focus appears to be on a U.S. Senate bid in 2018. (America's Party had been known as America’s Independent Party and nominated Alan Keyes for president back in 2008.)
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued his push for higher education reform, appearing on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday. Rubio offered a major speech on higher education on Monday at Miami-Dade College.
Asked about how to make higher education more affordable, Rubio offered his thoughts.
“I think people have knowledge they have acquired by living life, by working, through volunteerism,” Rubio said. “They can acquire it by taking online courses. People should be able to get credit for that. I mean, how many people, for example, veterans, return from war knowing how to do all sorts of things, but in order to get a college degree, they’ve got to sit in the classroom and take exams and an entire course, and pay for it on something they learned doing in the military or in other aspects of life. My point is that we need to have a flexible higher education system where people can get college credit toward a degree that gives you credit for all those things.
“But we have a bigger problem,” Rubio added. “We have this rapid transformation in our economy. It is harder and harder to find a job these days if you don’t have some sort of higher education. And yet higher education has become more and more expensive, and it is completely controlled by the existing colleges and universities who play an important role, but have a monopoly in controlling access. And as a result, we have a trillion dollars in student loan debt out there.”
“It's extremely expensive to go to college in this country right now," said Fox News’ Martha MacCallum. “Again, I just have a couple of seconds on this, but a student investment plan that would get sort of the private financial sector involved in financing education?”
“It would allow students to basically have private investment groups invest in them,” Rubio said. “They pay for their education instead of taking out a loan. And in return, the student agrees, in a contract, to pay back that investment over a period of time through a percentage of how much they make. If that adds up to more than what they borrowed, then the investment group made a great investment. If it turns out less, then the investment didn’t work out. But that’s an alternative to loans. Again, the loans will still be there if that’s what they prefer to have, but I think this will really help graduate students going into engineering and the sciences, for example.”