Sunshine State News Blogs

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was in South Florida on Tuesday to meet with U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo regarding transportation issues in the region.

“I had a productive conversation with Chairman Shuster and Commissioner Bovo where we discussed the important transportation and infrastructure issues facing South Florida,” Curbelo said after the meeting. “With the area’s rapid growth and development in recent years, congestion issues have become a growing concern. Chairman Shuster, Commissioner Bovo, and I are in agreement that in order for Miami-Dade County and the region to continue growing and attracting new businesses, we need to put in place solutions to solve these congestion concerns. It was an honor to host Chairman Shuster in the district to discuss these important issues with Commissioner Bovo and I look forward to working with them both in the future to increase Miami-Dade County and our region’s economic potential. ”

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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., part of the Republican leadership as senior deputy majority whip, slammed President Barack Obama for vetoing the Keystone XL Pipeline on Tuesday.

“It is unacceptable that President Obama continues to obstruct the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline," Ross said. “This project has broad bipartisan support, not only within the halls of Congress, but also across the country. It will create tens of thousands of jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign energy. By vetoing this legislation, the president has put his political agenda before the needs of everyday Americans.”

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President Barack Obama hits Florida on Wednesday and state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) said on Tuesday that he would be wise to study Gov. Rick Scott’s playbook.

“When President Obama arrives in beautiful Miami tomorrow, our governor, Rick Scott, will be there to welcome him,” Ingoglia said on Tuesday afternoon. “On the flight down, we invite the president to examine the ‘Florida Record’ since Gov. Scott began our ‘Florida Comeback,’ which includes creating more than 728,500 jobs over the last four years, an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent and record tourism.

“We also invite the president to examine the work of our Republican Florida Legislature and Cabinet, who prove that budgeting with the mindset that it is the taxpayer’s money, not their own, promotes responsible growth and a stronger economy,” Ingoglia added. “With the level of success we’ve seen here in the Sunshine State, maybe President Obama should look to Florida as an example of what can, and should, be done.

“As the national debt reaches more than $18 trillion, we hope the president enjoys our sunshine, the hospitality of the people of Miami and learning about the successful record of Florida Republicans,” said Ingoglia in conclusion.

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President Barack Obama is heading to sunny Miami Wednesday to talk about one of the more controversial issues in politics these days: immigration. 

Obama will be headlining an MSNBC/Telemundo town-hall style meeting at Florida International University, where he will take questions from social media users and attendees on the topic. Last week, a federal judge in Texas ruled Obams exceeded his presidential authority with an executive order to defer deportations for millions living in the U.S. illegally. 

 The administration said it would appeal the decision. 

Obama will be greeted by Gov. Rick Scott at the Miami-Dade International airport before the town hall meeting.
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President Barack Obama vetoed a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada on Tuesday.

"The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in his veto message to the Senate. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest -- including our security, safety, and environment -- it has earned my veto.

"Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest," said Obama.

Republicans were supportive of the Keystone XL project because of its potential to be a hub for job creation, but Obama and Democrats have questioned whether the project affects climate change. Environmentalists heavily opposed the project due to carbon emissions, the greenhouses gases blamed for global warming.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Republican-led Senate would attempt to overturn the veto by next week.  
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More than 50 Republicans in the U.S. House, led by U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., are urging the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to reject President Barack Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch as U.S. attorney general.

Bridenstine sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee and three congressmen from Florida -- Republican U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis, Dan Webster and Ted Yoho -- signed on.

“The top law enforcement official in the land must be willing to enforce the law, independent of administration politics,” said Bridenstine this week. “The testimony of Loretta Lynch demonstrated an unwillingness to depart from the politicization of justice we have seen from Eric Holder. The Senate has a constitutional obligation not to confirm her. This starts in the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

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U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., came out swinging against President Barack Obama’s call for Net neutrality and an increasingly regulated Internet.

On Tuesday, Buchanan said if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) votes on Thursday to implement the new regulations, he would lead the fight in Congress to overturn the decision. The FCC is expected to vote 3-2 on Thursday to implement the new regulations.

"The Internet is working fine,” Buchanan said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

“As the FCC prepares to assert absolute government control of the Internet, Congress should do everything possible to stop this outrageous power grab.” Buchanan said. “The last thing we need are unelected bureaucrats destroying the concept of a free and fair Internet.”

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Ashley Parker over at the New York Times is reporting that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is telling supporters that “he is committed to running for president, not re-election to the Senate” in 2016 despite former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., also expected to run for the Republican nomination.

Parker writes:

Rubio is racing ahead like a man gearing up for a presidential run. His mini-tour for “American Dreams” — his new book, which reads like a blueprint of policy prescriptions for a presidential bid — has taken him through the first four nominating states in the 2016 Republican primary season.

And though he is not expected to make any official announcement until April, he is quietly telling donors that he is committed to running for president, not re-election to the Senate. (During a stop in Las Vegas, Mr. Rubio met privately with Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major Republican donor. Neither Mr. Rubio nor Mr. Adelson’s team would comment on what the two men had discussed.)

At a seminar last month hosted by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, Mr. Rubio impressed the powerful crowd. Later, at a panel convened by Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, donors by a show of hands said Mr. Rubio had overwhelmingly performed the best among the 2016 hopefuls invited.

Mr. Rubio’s team, as well as other Republican operatives and donors, point out that Mr. Rubio, while not as well known among voters as some of his potential rivals, is generally well liked and in the top tier when it comes to favorability.

“We keep talking about growing the tent of the Republican Party and bringing in new folks,” said Spencer Zwick, Mitt Romney’s longtime finance chief, who is now a coveted Republican operative. “I think Marco can be a candidate to bring that excitement and energy needed to win a general election.”

Mr. Rubio’s personal story — that as the son of immigrant parents, a bartender and a maid, he wants the next generation to have the same opportunities he enjoyed — resonates with voters in an emotional way, Mr. Luntz said. On income inequality, which is shaping up to be one of the major issues of 2016, Mr. Luntz added: “Other candidates can talk about it. He actually lived it.”

The full article can be read here.

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Nate Cohn over at the New York Times makes the case that former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., has one major factor helping his chances to become the Republican presidential nominee: the collapse of Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.

Cohn argues that moderate and liberal Republicans play a major role in primaries, even in large states like California and New York which will back Democrats in the general elections. One of the states Cohn notes where moderate and liberal Republicans play a major role might be small but it casts a large shadow in presidential primaries: New Hampshire. Cohn contrasts Bush’s chances with conservative primary voters divided between several GOP contenders.

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The Florida Chamber will be hosting its annual Board of Governors Capitol Days in Tallahassee next week, tackling a number of the hottest topics in the Sunshine State.

The Board of Governors Capitol Days will be held March 4-6 at the Turnbull Center at Florida State University.

The event will include speakers scheduled to talk about key topics such as Florida’s long-term water policy as well as the Florida Chamber’s plan for smarter health care coverage and solutions to change Florida’s title as a “judicial hellhole.”

Governor John McKernan Jr., president U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and former governor of Maine, and J.D. Foster, Ph.D., deputy chief economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, will deliver the keynote address. 

Other speakers will include Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli.

View the full agenda here.
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The Florida Department of Education named the top principal and assistant principal of 2015 Monday at the Commissioner's Summit for Principals in Orlando.

Candidates were nominated by the superintendent from their respective school district. 

The winner of the state's top principal went to Dr. Angela Murphy-Osborne of Palmetto Elementary School in Orange County. Murphy-Osborne raised the grade of her elementary school from an "F" to an "A" in just a single year. She is also the current Orange County Principal of the Year.

The state's top assistant principal was Dustin Sims of Flagler Palm Coast High School (FPCH in Flagler County). Sims led FPCH in curriculum but also assisted in raising the school's letter grade from a "D" to an "A."  

In addition, Dustin Sims was honored with the Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award. Sims led the the awards recognizing outstanding school leaders who have increased student performance, promoted safe learning environments and established successful partnerships with parents and community members.

“I am honored to be recognized among outstanding peers, and I have a great appreciation for Flagler County schools,” said Sims on Monday. “I will never forget the lesson taught to me my first year in administration by Superintendent Oliva: ‘Managers manage things, leaders lead people.’ I have tried my best to follow that lesson and allow myself each day the privilege of leading others by serving them."

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart called the two "shining examples" of making students and quality education a top priority.

“These outstanding principals and assistant principals are models of exceptional leadership, and possess the vision and motivation necessary to provide an outstanding education in Florida schools," she said. 

The recipient of the 2015 Principal of the Year was awarded a cash prize of $5,000 and an exclusive overnight stay at the Cinderella Castle Suite inside the Magic Kingdom Park, along with theme park admission for the winner and his or her guests provided by Disney Youth Programs. The Assistant Principal of the Year received a cash prize of $2,500 and a weekend resort stay at the Walt Disney World Resort and theme park admission, also courtesy of Disney Youth Programs.

The Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership was established in 1988 to recognize Florida principals for their contributions to their schools and communities. The Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award was established in 1997 to honor assistant principals that have utilized teamwork and leadership to increase student achievement and greatly improved school environments.

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The Coastal Communities Caucus is launching in Congress with two Florida congressmen helping organize the new group. The new caucus will focus on issues facing Americans who live on America’s coastlines.

U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., announced on Monday they were two of the eight founders of the caucus. The two Florida congressmen offered their reasons why the new group was needed.

“Communities across the country face unique opportunities and challenges by living and working along our nation's coastlines,” Jolly said on Monday. “From prestorm mitigation to flood insurance, to critical marine and shore habitats, to weather-related disaster, erosion, and tourism -- these are not partisan issues, nor are they confined to only one coastal community. In an effort to best advocate in the United States Congress for communities along our Gulf, Atlantic, and Pacific coasts, I have joined with my colleagues who represent these districts to form a bipartisan, bicoastal Congressional Coastal Communities Caucus to give a unified voice to our districts and advocate for our unique community needs in a unified, bipartisan manner.”

“The people that live, work and recreate on the coast face specific needs and challenges, and that is why the Coastal Communities Caucus is so important,” Murphy said. “Whether it’s tackling flood insurance, protecting our regions from natural disasters, dealing with sea-level rises or preserving coastal ecology, this coalition of members will help to represent the key needs of our constituents.”

Keep an eye on Sunshine State News for more on the new caucus  

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Right to Rise, a PAC affiliated with former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., released a Web video at the end of last week attacking President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.

The video features a series of news clips focusing on current international crises before turning to Bush making the case for “strong American leadership” on the global stage.

Bush is exploring running for the Republican presidential nomination.

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U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and a potential U.S. Senate candidate in 2016, is in trouble as noted trial attorney and Democratic supporter John Morgan is accusing her of offering to change her position on medical marijuana for campaign donations.

Morgan forwarded an email chain of his correspondence with Wasserman Schultz’s team to Marc Caputo of Politico. Wasserman Schultz and Morgan exchanged fire last year while they stood on different sides of Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana in the Sunshine State. While Morgan was the chief supporter of Amendment 2, Wasserman Schultz opposed the proposal.

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U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., one of the leading Republicans dealing with foreign affairs in the U.S. House and chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, took aim at the Maduro regime on Thursday, noting increased actions against democratic activists in Venezuela this week.

“Maduro continues to trample on human rights in Venezuela as reports surface that the regime may attempt to move Leopoldo from his cell through violent tactics and has arrested the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, by force,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Thursday. “The Maduro regime is crippling before our very eyes and its actions have become more aggressive as desperation sets in to attempt to silence the people of Venezuela who are yearning for democratic freedoms.

“These repressive attacks cannot go unabated and denote the repressive nature of the regime, which serves as a poignant reminder that the Obama administration needs to immediately and effectively enforce the sanctions signed into law to send a signal that we will not let these acts go unpunished,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “I remain extremely concerned over the well-being of Leopoldo and all the political prisoners in Venezuela, and call on the U.S. and all freedom loving nations to strongly condemn Maduro for his reign of violence.”

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On Wednesday, Dr. John Armstrong, secretary of Health and surgeon general of Florida, named Kim Barnhill as Deputy Secretary for County Health Systems, moving her from her post as chief of staff. Jennifer Tschetter, currently the Department of Health’s general counsel, will take Barnhill’s place as chief of staff. In the meantime, Danny Hernandez, who had been deputy general counsel, will take Tschetter’s place on an interim basis.

“We have tremendous talent in the Florida Department of Health, with public health professionals who epitomize the best of public service,” said Armstrong. “Kim Barnhill, as a former county health department administrator, has the ideal skillset to support the county health departments in meeting the health needs of Florida’s families and visitors, while Jennifer Tschetter brings significant managerial expertise, honed within the state and county health offices, to promote best organizational practices.”

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U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., weighed in on U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen putting a stop on President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration on Wednesday, insisting Congress needs to take action instead of the White House.

“It is my firm belief that Congress, not the president, must address our nation's immigration concerns by working towards a broader solution, rather than an executive order,” Curbelo said. “Judge Hanen's ruling underscores the perilous legal ground the president has to stand on in trying to justify his executive orders."

"It is time for Congress to get serious about overhauling our nation's immigration laws,” Curbelo added. “We must pass an immigration reform package that commits the resources necessary to secure our border, modernize our visa system, and create a tough, but fair, legalization framework for individuals who are already here. With over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country today, the immigration issue is no longer a problem that can be ignored or used as a pawn in political games."

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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater announced some changes in his leadership team on Wednesday.

Jon Miller, currently director of government, community relations and development at Keiser University is taking over as communications director. Miller is well-known in Florida politics and worked for Craig Miller (no relation) during that Republican’s efforts to win a U.S. Senate or congressional seat. Ashley Carr remains the deputy communications director and spokeswoman for the department.

Elizabeth Boyd was promoted to legislative affairs director after three years as the deputy legislative affairs director. She also handled legislative affairs at the Department of Management Services, the Florida Lottery and for former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla.

Fresh off helping Brad Drake return to the Florida House, Ben “BG” Murphy, will take over Boyd’s spot as deputy legislative affairs director. Murphy had been a legislative assistant to Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello.

“These individuals bring with them a wealth of private-sector and government experience as well as a passion for serving the people of Florida,” said Atwater. “I am pleased these accomplished individuals have joined the team, and I know they will help carry-forward my goals of expanding economic capacity, promoting fiscal transparency and accountability, eliminating fraud, reducing regulations, and protecting the state’s most vulnerable consumers from financial harm and abuse.”

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On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott named former state Rep. Doug Holder to the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority. Holder will serve in that capacity until 2018.

Having faced term limits in the House back in 2014, Holder is looking to get back to Tallahassee, running for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, in 2018 when she faces term limits. Holder does not have an open shot at this early stage in the contest as Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, filed to run for the Senate seat last month.

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The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) unveiled its top targets for 2016 on Wednesday with two members of the Florida delegation on the list.

With 19 Democratic incumbents in their sights, the NRCC is taking aim at U.S. Reps. Gwen Graham and Patrick Murphy in the Sunshine State.

“As Nancy Pelosi continues to pull her smaller and weaker caucus of House Democrats to the far left, we are going to make sure that these vulnerable Democrats are held responsible for their disastrous policies,” said Katie Martin, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Wedneaday. “As demonstrated in the past several elections, House Democrats have been oblivious to the will of the American people and it is time to end their toxic agenda which is bankrupting middle-class families.”

The NRCC is running a website targeting the vulnerable Democrats.

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Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida (CARE FL) came out swinging at All Aboard Florida (AAF) on Wednesday, releasing a report which insists AAF will face losses of $100 million a year.

“For months now, homeowners and residents in the communities CARE FL represents have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the proposed rail project and the adverse impact it will have on the communities along the way,” said Bill Ward, the chairman of CARE FL. “We cannot have 32 trains rumbling through our communities on a daily basis, causing gridlock on our roadways and waterways as well as creating barriers for first responders. The project not only impacts the character of our downtowns, but it will also erode the quality of life that we all enjoy.”

The report insists AAF will need between $50-$73 million in tax subsidies a year to stay afloat. The report, which was done by John Friedman, a Brown University professor who worked as a White House economic adviser, can be read here.

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A familiar face is returning to Tallahassee as Democrat Reggie Fullwood won a special election for the Florida House seat he was forced to vacate after he failed to make the ballot last year due to papers not being filed correctly.

Fullwood took 56 percent of the vote on Tuesday, beating Republican Lawrence “Jeff” Jefferson by almost 1,100 votes to take the seat which represents parts of Duval County.

“I am honored that the people of District 13 have chosen me as their voice in Tallahassee,” Fullwood said after his win. “Hard-working Floridians deserve a fully-funded public education system for their children, a fair wage for a fair day’s work, and access to the highest quality health care for themselves and their families. I couldn’t be more excited to get back to work fighting for my community!”

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Former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber, R-Minn., a key adviser to former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., during his presidential bids, is backing former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., for the Republican nomination in 2016. The Washington Post reported the news on Tuesday.

Weber is going to be courting conservatives on Bush’s behalf in the months to come. When he was with Romney, Weber often focused on policy.

H/t Political Wire

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With Islamic State (IS) terrorists executing more than 20 Coptic Christians in Libya this week, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., called the killings an “act of barbarism” and insisted the terrorists are an “imminent threat” to the U.S.

“IS has shown time and time again they are a menace, intent on killing all those who disagree with their views,” Bilirakis said on Tuesday. They terrorize religious minorities across the Middle East, and now into Africa. IS must be degraded and ultimately destroyed.

"I have maintained that IS represents an imminent threat to the United States and our allies,” Bilirakis added. “This act of barbarism simply reinforces that point. As Congress considers the president’s AUMF for combating IS, we must consider the full scope of terror and civilian slayings across Africa and the Middle East. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this tragedy, as well as all those victimized by IS’s barbarism."

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When it comes to the Iowa caucus, Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., is the chief beneficiary of former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., not running for president in 2016.

“We see Scott Walker leading; he clearly took the Mitt Romney vote,” Doug Kaplan from Gravis said. “The debates the Republicans will have that start later in the year will be much more important than previous years.”

Gravis Marketing released a poll on Tuesday showing Walker ahead with 24 percent while former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tied in second with 10 percent each. Gov. Chris Christie, R-NJ, is fourth with 9 percent. Despite winning the caucus in 2008, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., is tied for fifth with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., with 7 percent each. Another past winner, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn, who beat Romney in 2012 here, takes 6 percent followed by Dr. Ben Carson with 5 percent. U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pulls 4 percent followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina with 3 percent.

Kaplan said he expected the field to winnow in the coming months.

“It is hard in a large field to get a real number, when out of a dozen or more possible candidates, only six or eight will be viable Jan. 5, 2016, the day of the Iowa caucuses,” Kaplan said.

The poll of 343 Iowa Republicans was taken Feb. 12-13 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

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U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is drawing close to a U.S. Senate bid in 2016, especially as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., looks more likely to make a presidential bid.

That’s what Marc Caputo is reporting from his new perch at Politico.

Other candidates in the mix on the Democratic side, according to Caputo, include U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., and former Gov. Charlie Crist, D-Fla. The article can be read here.

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The Republican Party of Florida will be bringing in some of the state's top politicians for a pre-legislative session fundraiser, according to an invitation sent Tuesday afternoon. 

The event, which will be held Mar. 2 -- the day before the 2015 legislative session kicks off -- at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee, will feature Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and former Gov. Jeb Bush as some of the "special featured guests."  Both Rubio and Bush's names are in the mix for running for president in 2016.

Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics views the event as something of a party unity event after Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, defeated Leslie Dougher, who had Scott’s support, when the RPOF chose a chair last month. The various Republicans -- Scott, the Legislature, Bush in the 2016 prelims -- need a united GOP in the Sunshine State. The fundraiser is a step in that direction.


See the event flyer below:

RPOF Fundraiser
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx came to Tallahassee on Tuesday, looking to spur the completion of the SR 263 Capital Circle Southwest Project, expanding access to Florida State University and the Tallahassee Regional Airport.

Foxx’s appearance in Tallahassee, which included a meeting with students at Florida A&M University (FAMU), is the first stop of his bus tour to showcase President Barack Obama’s “Grow America Act,” which calls for $478 billion for transportation projects in the next six years. The Capital Circle expansion would need $111 million. Foxx was joined by Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillium.

“"I kicked off this bus tour with two stops in Tallahassee, one was a great sendoff by the students of FAMU, which begs the question of what kind of country we want to leave future generations,"” Foxx said on Tuesday. ““Right now, we’ve got a lot of work to do rebuilding America'’s infrastructure and young people all across this country deserve more than a patchwork of promises from Congress and a future of short-term fixes. Congress needs to pass a long-term transportation bill like our Grow America Act to put us on a more competitive path.””

Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau also made the case for why the Capital Circle project needs to be finished.

““The improvements on SR 263 would support the area'’s economy and support the future expansion of the airport,”" Nadeau insisted. ““It'’s projects such as these that make it possible for Florida to expand its economy and create jobs."”

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Florida TaxWatch went to bat for Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to reduce the Communication Service Tax (CST). Scott has called reducing the CST by almost $471 million one of his top legislative priorities in 2015.

"I applaud the governor for his leadership and commitment to reducing taxes for all Floridians, especially those families, seniors and residents on very modest incomes," said Dominic M. Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, on Tuesday. "For years we have recommended that the Legislature reduce this highly burdensome and regressive tax on consumers and businesses. Florida's unfairly high Communications Services Tax is punitive and makes the state less attractive to businesses the state is trying to recruit to provide high-skill, high-wage jobs to its residents."

Florida TaxWatch released a report on Florida’s CST, one of the highest in the nation, which can be read here.

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The Florida chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) offered staunch support for Florida Sen. Rene Garcia’s, R-Hialeah, and state Rep. Jay Fant’s, R-Jacksonville, bill to make the Saturday after Thanksgiving a sales tax holiday for small businesses. Across the nation, small businesses are pushing “Small Business Saturday” as part of the holiday shopping culture, much like “Black Friday” is.

““Local businesses have been enthusiastic about Small Business Saturday from its inception, but they’'re thrilled that the Florida Legislature wants to give Floridians an even bigger incentive to visit their smaller, independently owned stores on the Saturday after Thanksgiving,”” said Bill Herrle, the NFIB’s executive director in Florida. ““Florida’'s commitment to small-business owners has been overwhelming, but a Small Business Saturday sales tax holiday is an exciting way to give these small local shops a boost and give shoppers even more reasons to visit their neighbors on Main Street as part of their holiday shopping.””

Under the bill, small businesses would include companies with less than $3.3 million in taxable sales.

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