Sunshine State News Blogs

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., penned an op-ed at Fox News’ website on Friday, making the case for school choice, insisted it helps children from lower income families do better. Praising Florida's school choice options, Rubio maintained changes in education and technology made school choice options more necessary and argued teacher unions often block the path to real reform. The essay can be read here.

Rubio wrote:

Parents everywhere share a common dream: we all want our children to have the chance at a life better than our own. This has propelled the progress of our nation and has become an essential part of the American dream. To give children this chance, every parent should be given the right to choose the learning environment that best fits their child's unique needs.

In the 21st century, the definition of “public education” is changing rapidly. It used to mean giving school districts all the taxpayer dollars raised to educate kids, and letting the districts assign children to public schools according to zip code. Fortunately, we are moving to a new definition: letting parents direct taxpayer funds -- with proper accountability -- to different providers, even different delivery methods.

Last year in my home state of Florida, over 40 percent of children educated with taxpayer funds didn’t attend their zoned public school. They attended district-run magnet schools, charter schools, virtual schools and dual enrollment programs with colleges. This customization has enabled Florida to have great achievement gains for its lower-income and minority children over the last decade.

For 13 years, Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program has played a critical role in this progress. The program provides tax credits to companies that donate to scholarship-granting organizations. It’s been so successful in Florida that I used it as a model for federal legislation I’ve introduced.

Today roughly 68,000 low-income parents use the program to send their child to a school that better fits his or her unique learning needs. Test scores show that these children were the lowest performers in their public schools when they left but now see learning gains equal to children of all incomes.

Incredibly, in spite of this clear success, the Florida teachers' union and the Florida School Boards Association filed suit in August to shut down the program.

Should the suit succeed, these 68,000 needy children – 70 percent of which are either African-American, or of Hispanic or Haitian descent – will be evicted from their chosen schools. Further, hundreds of private schools in Florida serving minority children will be forced to close their doors.

Although this is happening in Florida, it should concern all parents across the entire country who want and deserve the freedom and opportunity to give their kids better education options.

It is also not some abstract legal case. These are real people.

I've personally visited some of these schools and talked to parents and children whose lives have been touched by this program. I'm outraged that unions have put their own wants over the needs of these children and families.

The teachers' union claims to be suing to end the program because funding has "reached a tipping point."

But that simply isn't true. The program represents less than 2 percent of our state’s K-12 budget, and it actually saves taxpayers over $50 million every year.

The real reason the union wants to shut the program down is simple: it doesn't like having to compete with private schools for lower-income students.

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The team behind Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, the Republican candidate running in CD 26 in South Florida, released a Web video on Friday taking aim at U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla. The new ad uses Garcia’s words against him, looking to undermine the Democrat’s arguments on why he deserves a second term in Congress.

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After reports emerged that a health-care worker was infected with the Ebola virus in Dallas Sunday afternoon, Gov. Rick Scott asked Florida hospitals to launch mandatory training for health-care workers on the disease.

“In light of what happened in Dallas, we want to make sure those health-care professionals on the front lines have the training and equipment they need to protect their health and safety,” Scott said. “We are asking every Florida hospital to mandate that all health-care professionals undergo Ebola preparedness training to ensure knowledge of protocols and availability of necessary personal protective equipment. It is very important for Florida hospitals to have the protective gear recommended by the CDC to ensure our health-care professionals are safe in the event we ever have a case of Ebola in Florida.

“We’re asking Florida hospitals to notify the Department of Health when their personnel have undergone the mandatory training programs,” Scott added. “In Florida, we are continuing to hope for the best while we prepare for the worst and learn from the developments in Dallas to further improve our own preparedness efforts.”
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A new poll finds most Americans want an end to the era of big government, with more than half of them saying they view the federal government unfavorably.

The Rasmussen Reports poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters found 64 percent of respondents viewed the federal government as "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable," while only 28 percent said they viewed the federal government as "somewhat favorable." A minuscule number  -- 4 percent -- of voters said they view the government as "very favorable."

Most voters prefer smaller governments with fewer services and lower taxes -- 59 percent said they favor such a type of government. On the flip side, 28 percent said they'd prefer a larger government with more services and higher taxes.

Voters still aren't convinced the era of big government is over just yet. Less than a quarter (18 percent) said big government's reign is over, but a little more than half (53 percent) said the era hasn't ended just yet.

Nearly half (48 percent) said they want the era of big government to end, with 27 percent saying they don't want it to end and 25 percent who aren't sure. 

The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Oct. 7-8 by Rasmussen Reports.
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Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist duked it out for their first of three televised debates Friday morning in Miramar, but both candidates mainly stuck to their talking points and pointed fingers at each other on a wide range of issues.

In the debate, hosted by WSCV-Telemundo 51, Crist said he would support expanding Medicaid as well as increasing the minimum wage, while Scott said the state cannot afford Medicaid expansion and said he was opposed to increasing the minimum wage. Crist was also quick to attack Scott over public education funding.

"We need a governor who understands (the) importance of public education, who will fund and not cut it," he said. 

On the issue of gay marriage, Scott said he believed in traditional marriage, but that the issue was ultimately up to the courts to decide. 

Other issued discussed included Ebola, DREAMers and medical marijuana. 

The debate will air at 7 p.m. Friday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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A new poll shows Miami Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo, the Republican nominee, has the edge on U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla.

The poll from Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows Curbelo taking 46 percent while Garcia garners 42 percent.

“Congressman Garcia is in a weaker position than he may have hoped for with less than a month to go in the campaign,” said Frank Orlando, a political science instructor at Saint Leo University. “Curbelo, the Republican challenger, can take satisfaction in knowing that over twice as many voters view him as strongly favorable than strongly unfavorable.

“There’s still time for Garcia to make a move, but he must court independent voters,” Orlando added. “Although demographics and a gradual shift in Cuban political identity are making the district more Democratic, Garcia must also win a greater share of Republican votes, a hallmark of his successful 2012 campaign.”

The poll of 400 likely voters was taken from Oct. 1-Oct. 6 and had a margin of error of +/- 5 percent. More than an eighth--54 of the 400 voter interviews--were conducted in Spanish.
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With reports emerging that President Barack Obama wants to close the terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by using executive power, a prominent Republican congressman from the Sunshine State is pushing back.

“Why is the White House even discussing this as we battle a brutal enemy that has beheaded two Americans?” asked U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., the only member of the Florida delegation to sit on the Ways and Means Committee. “Bringing dangerous terrorists into the U.S. makes no sense and sends the wrong message to our enemies and allies.”

Guantanamo currently houses almost 150 prisoners.
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced on Friday that he was backing Republican challenger Carol Platt over U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.

"Carol is a principled leader with the ability to work across party lines for the betterment of our community, state and country,” Rubio said. “We need Carol in Washington because she will fight for Central Florida and to help more people achieve the American dream. She's the kind of uniting voice our state and our country need right now. I'm proud to give her my full support."

"I am so honored to have Senator Rubio's support,” Platt said. “He is a fantastic example of the kind of leaders our country needs more of, and I know that with his help, I will defeat Alan Grayson in November."
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On Thursday, Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super-PAC connected to the conservative American Action Network (AAN),announced plans to get active in North Florida as U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., tries to fend off Democrat Gwen Graham. CLF plans to spend $600,000 in ads attacking Graham.  

“Gwen Graham may talk about the North Florida way, but her record shows she only operates the Washington insider way,” said Dan Conston, a CLF spokesman.
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A new poll shows Amendment 2, which would expand medical marijuana use in Florida, having enough support to pass at the November ballot. Earlier this week, WFLA/Survey USA released a poll which shows only 51 percent of likely voters back Amendment 2, below the 60 percent needed to pass.  

The University of North Florida (UNF) released a poll on Thursday showing Amendment 2 in much better shape. UNF finds 67 percent of likely voters back Amendment 2 while only 28 percent of those surveyed oppose it.

When asked about legalizing marijuana for recreational use, a majority of those surveyed -- 53 percent -- oppose the idea while 44 percent support it.

The poll of 471 likely voters was taken from Sept. 29-Oct. 8 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.74 percent.

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A new poll from the University of North Florida (UNF) shows former Gov. Charlie Crist ahead of Gov. Rick Scott in the hotly contested Florida gubernatorial race.

The poll of likely voters shows Crist taking 43 percent of those surveyed while Scott garners 38 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 10 percent.

When Wyllie is taken out of the mix, Crist retains a 5 percent lead, beating Scott 47 percent to 42 percent.

The poll of 471 likely voters was taken from Sept. 29-Oct. 8 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.74 percent.

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With a lawsuit in place to get into the debates between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, Libertarian Adrian Wyllie plans to be active on Friday in Miramar, protesting in front of the studio where the first debate between Crist and Scott will take place.

The debate is being held by Telemundo and will air on that station at 7 pm on Friday.  

The Wyllie campaign plans to hold a rally in front of Telemundo before the debate where the Libertarian candidate will speak.

“We refuse to be silent!” the Wyllie campaign announced on Thursday. “Adrian will lead a rally Friday, October 10th at 9am in front of Telemundo Studios in Miami. We will be exercising our First Amendment right while protesting his exclusion from the pre-recorded Florida gubernatorial debates. He is the third listing on the ballot but was never invited to participate.”

The Wyllie team accused Telemundo of being “complicit in election rigging by not allowing Adrian to debate.”
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Libertarian candidate for governor Adrian Wyllie wants in to the Florida Press Association gubernatorial debate, and he's willing to sue to get there.

On Thursday, the Miami Herald reported Wyllie had filed a federal lawsuit to force the FPA to allow him onstage with Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, who have been scheduled to appear at the debate for months.  

Wyllie was initially included in the Oct. 15 debate, but organizers dropped him after claiming he didn't qualify. In order to participate in the debate, candidates needed at least 15 percent support in a credible poll by the end of September, including the benefit of the poll's margin of error.

Wyllie pulled in 13 percent in a recent Republican-leaning 0ptimus poll, but polls from previous months didn't put him in the 15 percent bracket to qualify. 

The debate will be held at Broward College in Davie and is co-sponsored by Leadership Florida.
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Appearing on the “Lars Larson Show” on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued to sound the alarm that taxpayers could be on the hook, insisting President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law will lead to bailouts of insurance companies.

Rubio led a group of conservative senators in writing U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, warning that Obamacare could lead to bailouts.

“Where’s that money going to coming from?” Rubio asked on the show. “Well, the money is going to come from the taxpayer. It’s going to come from you and from me and from American taxpayers to bail out these companies who participated in Obamacare and then are losing money on it.

“The point I’m making, and the letter that we sent today to Speaker Boehner, is if they’re going to spend taxpayer money, they have to come through Congress to do that because that’s appropriated funding,” Rubio added. “All the applicable agencies that have looked at it agree with us. This can’t just be President Obama unilaterally deciding to send them a check. He can’t do it, and he shouldn’t do it.”

Rubio said this situation arose due to changes in the law.

“The problem is once they [insurance companies] got into this business, they realized, ‘Hey, this is not as good as we thought.’ And then the president changed the rules on them, unilaterally, by deciding to waive the employer mandate and let people keep the insurance they had,” Rubio said. “So now they’re coming back and saying, ‘Hold on, it’s not working out for us anymore – we want to be bailed out with taxpayer money.’ And I just think that’s wrong.

“These companies should have folded, and said, ‘Look, sorry. We don’t want to participate in the exchange anymore. We were wrong to have supported Obamacare.’ But no matter what, we should not have to pay for it,” Rubio added. “We should not be bailing out another group of massive companies – like we did banks and others – because they have good lobbyists. We just shouldn’t.”

“What bothers me is simple, and that is that the taxpayer is once again on the hook for all of this,” Rubio said. “What bothers me is I go in the Capitol, and I run into all these lobbyists crawling all over the Capitol fighting on behalf of these insurance companies who want their money. But our job is to fight on behalf of the taxpayer whose money they want. And it isn’t fair to the taxpayer.

“Now, I think it’s terrible that some of these companies are going to suffer some losses because they participated in Obamacare," Rubio added. “But the taxpayer shouldn’t have to pay the price for that.”
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Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist are ready to throw down the gauntlet as they face off for the first time on Friday in a televised debate. 

The two candidates will participate in a debate at Telemundo’s studio in Miramar at 11 a.m. Friday morning. Candidates will answer questions in English and the station will translate their answers into Spanish. 

"Don't underestimate him," said Charlie Crist in an email sent Thursday morning. "Rick Scott is a good debater. He's got his talking points, he sticks to them, and as he's shown over and over again, he's good at dodging the question. But I'm ready to take him on." 

The debate will air on television at 7 p.m on Friday. 
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Despite his ties with former Gov. Charlie Crist, former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, R-Fla., announced on Thursday he was backing Gov. Rick Scott for a second term. Mack had been a key ally of Crist during his rise up the Republican ladder. Crist left the GOP in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation before joining the Democrats at the end of 2012.

“I’m proud to announce my wholehearted endorsement of Gov. Rick Scott for re-election,” Mack said. “I have had the opportunity to work with both Gov. Scott and Charlie Crist. Under Gov. Scott, Florida has created over 640,000 private-sector jobs, unemployment has dropped from 11.1 percent to 6.3 percent, the state debt has been cut by $4 billion, and tourism is at a record high.

"Under Charlie, over 830,000 jobs were lost and he burdened families with $2.2 billion in tax increases," Mack continued. "I am surprised and disappointed that for obvious political calculations he went from one day being a Reaganite to the next day hugging the extreme liberal policies of President Obama. This change doesn’t reveal a new perspective on the world. It reveals a serious character flaw based solely on ambition. It’s sad.”

Mack was elected to the Senate in 1988 and served two terms before retiring.
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Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, joined Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot on Thursday, speaking out against Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana in the Sunshine State.

“Let’s not hide behind labels such as ‘compassionate’ or ‘medical’ when debating this amendment.  Instead, let’s call it what it really is: a de facto legalization of marijuana in Florida,” said Weatherford, who is term-limited this year. “From higher dropout rates, to possible health complications, and even workplace challenges, Amendment 2’s risks pose a threat to Florida’s future economic expansion.”

Calvina Fay, the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, warned about Amendment 2 as well on Thursday, insisting it left too many loopholes on who could distribute marijuana if it passes.  

“Amendment 2 does not require background checks or for distributors to have any medical credentials whatsoever,” said Fay. “The result will be pot shops in our neighborhoods, in our shopping centers, and near places where our children play.”

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On Thursday, 27 members of Congress wrote President Barack Obama, calling upon his administration to enact a temporary travel ban on African nations impacted by the Ebola virus. Four members of the Florida delegation -- Republicans Bill Posey, Dennis Ross and Ted Yoho and Democrat Alan Grayson -- signed the letter.

“I am deeply concerned that this administration is not taking the necessary precautions to prevent any further cases of Ebola in the United States,” Ross said on Thursday. “President Obama’s recent comments stating that it’s ‘highly unlikely’ Ebola would reach our shores were completely wrong. Instead of embellishing safety measures, the president needs to look at the dangers of this disease with an unimpeded view and act accordingly. This disease is taking life in tragic numbers. Yesterday, the first Ebola patient in America who was hospitalized in Dallas, Texas, passed away.

“My constituents and I do not want to begin the venture of quarantining those living in our country,” Ross added. “Unfortunately, by allowing travel to and from countries that have been infected with this deadly virus, we could be heading in that direction. The fact is that there are uncertainties about this virus so we must take the proper precautions.

“It is my prerogative to pass legislation that will best represent my constituents’ needs, but it is also important for the government to take necessary action when facing a dangerous threat; in this case that threat is Ebola,” Ross said in conclusion. “Until this disease is controlled and wiped out, the president should begin a ban on air travel to and from infected regions of Africa and utilize legal quarantine and isolation procedures for United States citizens seeking to exercise their constitutional right to re-entry. This is the only way to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the United States and its citizens is preserved. There is an adage, ‘we must hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.’ This situation is no different. That is why I signed on to this letter.”


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After the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Republican challenger Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo over U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla. on Thursday, Miguel Salazar, a spokesman for the South Florida Democrat, fired back. Salazar noted the U.S. Chamber backed scandal-plagued then-U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., in 2012 over Garcia.

“The U.S. Chamber backed David Rivera, and now they’re backing Carlos Curbelo -- that should tell you everything you need to know about what this endorsement means,” Salazar said. “After Carlos Curbelo was caught calling Medicare and Social Security a ‘ponzi scheme,’ it’s no wonder that these sorts of partisan groups who share Curbelo’s self-interested political agenda are rushing in to try and prop him up.”

The U.S. Chamber has generally been backing Republicans in the 2014 election cycle though it has endorsed some Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.
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U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, said on Wednesday that Hezbollah -- which attacked and wounded two Israeli soldiers in recent days -- remains a major threat and called for the U.S. to stand with Israel. While critical of Islamic State (IS) terrorism, Ros-Lehtinen said the attack serves as a reminder there are other terrorist threats including Iran.

“This attack is just another reminder of the grave threat that Hezbollah poses to our close friend and ally, the democratic Jewish state of Israel,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Despite its engagement in Syria and Lebanon, Hezbollah’s arsenal still amounts to thousands of rockets that are pointed at Israel – a severe threat that we must not ignore. Iran -- the biggest state sponsor of terrorism -- continues to support and supply Hezbollah, and is still actively pursuing an agenda of terror, even as the nuclear negotiations continue. As we have finally increased our efforts to counter the growing threats posed by IS and al-Qaida, we must simultaneously counter the threat posed by Iran's proxies.

“As Israel is faced with more existential threats than ever before as she is trying to counter terrorist regimes like Iran and Syria and terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, the United States must stand with Israel, the oasis of freedom in a desert of oppression, and give her the support she needs to be able to defend herself,” Ros-Lehtinen added.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced on Thursday it was backing Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, the Republican challenger, over U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in one of the closest congressional races in the nation.

Moore Hallmark, the U.S. Chamber’s executive director for the southeast, praised Curbelo on Thursday.

“At no other time in our country’s history is it more important for our elected officials in Washington to understand that business isn’t the problem but a big part of the solution,” said Hallmark. “We need leaders with the courage to govern and that’s why we’re proud to stand with Carlos Curbelo today. Carlos is the kind of leader willing to fight for business and will get America back to work by strengthening the free-enterprise system.”

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognizes that families and small businesses across South Florida are eager for a healthier economy rich in jobs, opportunity, and economic growth,” Curbelo said. “That is why I am honored to receive their endorsement for Florida’s 26th Congressional District where I continue to share my vision to empower individuals and small businesses by fighting for government reforms that will create more jobs, protect Medicare and Social Security, and expand opportunity for all Americans.”
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Once word dropped Wednesday that Charlie Crist received $40,000 from strip clubs, the Republican Party of Florida was quick to pounce on the donation, saying Crist should return the campaign contributions.

SB Productions Inc., based out of Hollywood, Fla., sent a Crist PAC $30,000, while J.W. Lee Properties LLC out of Hallandale gave the PAC $10,000.  Both companies manage strip clubs throughout the South Florida area.

Crist refunded $1,000 to a Bradenton strip club and its owner, Dean Bowley, when he ran for governor in 2006.  

“Charlie Crist should follow his own lead and return the dirty strip club dollars his campaign has collected," said RPOF Chair Leslie Dougher. "We already know that Charlie keeps shady company -- the prison sentences for Jim Greer, Scott Rothstein, and Alan Mendelsohn can attest to that. But Charlie returned tainted money the first time he ran for governor and he should do it again. As Charlie likes to say, it’s the right thing to do.”
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Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., took part in a conference call with the White House on Wednesday as the nation prepares for an Ebola outbreak after nations in Africa were impacted by that disease.

Scott urged President Barack Obama to help Florida prepare for the possibility of an Ebola crisis.
“We are still urging the president to fulfill our request for 30 testing kits the state has requested from the CDC and an additional 100 units of high-level protective gear,” Scott said. “Florida still does not have any confirmed cases of Ebola, and we hope we never do, but we must continue to do everything possible to keep our citizens and our visitors safe.

Scott also said he agreed with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., to implement temporary travel bans with African nations impacted by Ebola.

“As to the discussion on international travel restrictions, I agree with Senator Bill Nelson and Governor Bobby Jindal that the White House needs to look at certain restrictions on travel from countries battling Ebola to keep Americans safe,” Scott said. “This is not a partisan decision. It is a common-sense decision. I assume the administration is doing everything they can to secure our country and combat the spread of this disease. That is what we are doing in Florida and I assume they are taking the same steps at the federal level.”
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In an ad released Wednesday, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) tied trial lawyer John Morgan, the chief sponsor of getting Amendment 2 on the November ballot, to former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee running against Gov. Rick Scott in November.

The new ad, titled "The Company He Keeps," shows a clip of Morgan using profane language at a rally backing Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana in Florida, followed by Crist, who used to work for Morgan's law firm, praising him.

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and other Republican senators wrote to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Wednesday, urging him to stand up to President Barack Obama and warning that the White House could ignore Congress by funding Obama’s signature federal health-care law’s risk corridor aspects. The Republican senators also warned about insurance company bailouts under the law.

“Unfortunately, President Obama and his administration have exhibited their intent to disregard the law and ignore the Constitution,” Rubio and the other senators wrote. “The American people expect us, as members of Congress, to fulfill our oath of office and defend the Constitution. Therefore, we must act to protect Congress’s power of the purse and prohibit the Obama administration from dispersing unlawful risk corridor payments providing for an Obamacare taxpayer bailout.”

Besides Rubio, the following Republican senators signed the letter: John Barrasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Ted Cruz of Texas, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Mike Lee of Utah, John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and David Vitter of Louisiana.
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Gov. Rick Scott’s team pounced on Democratic rival former Gov. Charlie Crist for accepting $40,000 from strip clubs. SB Productions Inc. out of Hollywood, Fla., sent a Crist PAC $30,000 while J.W. Lee Properties LLC out of Hallandale gave the PAC $10,000.         

“SB Productions and J.W. Lee Properties are companies owned by Brandon Samuels, John Blanke, and William Beasley," the Scott team noted. “J.W. Lee is doing business as Scarlett’s Cabaret, a Hallandale strip club.” Scott's team tried to connect these donors to old Crist ally Jim Greer.           
“It looks like Charlie Crist is in bed with some unsavory characters once again,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the Scott campaign. “On a desperate hunt for campaign cash, he’s calling up Jim Greer’s old friends, who – big surprise – have legal troubles of their own. When everyone around him seems to end up in prison, we don’t expect anything else from a corrupt politician like Charlie Crist.”
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Conservative group American Action Network (AAN) announced on Wednesday it was going to send $1.1 million to South Florida to run TV and online ads against U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., who is facing a major challenge from Republican candidate Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo. The new ads, which are in both English and Spanish, hit Garcia on ethics.

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“Joe Garcia is the dictionary definition of a hypocrite, promising strong ethics and instead delivering more scandal,” said Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for AAN on Wednesday. “For all Joe Garcia’s talk about keeping the public trust, he’s up to his eyeballs trying to defend himself while criminal investigations have already landed his right-hand man in jail. South Florida families deserve better than Joe Garcia’s scandals.”
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The fate of Amendment 2, which would expand medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State, continues to be undecided according to a new poll.

WFLA and Survey USA released a poll of likely voters late on Tuesday night which shows only 51 percent plan to vote for Amendment 2. A third of those surveyed -- 33 percent -- plan to vote against it while the remainder are undecided.

In a WFLA/Survey USA poll taken last week, support for Amendment 2 stood at 52 percent while opposition was 33 percent. Previous WFLA/Survey USA polls from September showed  Amendment 2 losing steam as it dropped from a high of 56 percent. To pass on the November ballot, 60 percent of voters need to support the measure.

The poll of 594 likely voters was taken from Oct. 2-6, including during Yom Kipper, and had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.
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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., wrote U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry on Tuesday, backing a temporary travel ban on African nations hit hard by the Ebola virus. Nelson urged the Obama administration to support such a ban. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said a travel ban was not currently on the table

“Considering the changing events and overall magnitude of the situation, it may be time to re-examine the travel issue from the standpoint of visas,” Nelson said on Tuesday.

Nelson wrote Kerry the following:
I have reviewed the administration’s comprehensive plan to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus and I support the national-security and public-health efforts in this regard.

It would seem that another means of reducing the chances of exposure to the virus here at home would be to temporarily suspend unnecessary travel to the United States under existing visas and the issuance of new visas for citizens of countries that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies as areas with high rates of infections.

These travel bans could be temporary until the CDC determines the affected areas no longer pose a threat. This would not only help protect Americans here at home, it would also provide additional time for the added steps the administration is implementing to take effect.

Of course, that wouldn’t block travel involving humanitarian assistance, medical personnel or the flow of supplies to areas hard hit by the virus.

While there have been unheeded calls in recent weeks from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle wanting similar action, I believe it is imperative the administration reconsider temporary, targeted travel restrictions at this time.  I look forward to your response.
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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., part of the U.S. House leadership in his role as senior deputy majority whip, received the Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Ross was honored for scoring 97 percent on what NAM recognized as “Key Manufacturing Votes.”

“We must continue the fight for our domestic manufacturing sector,” said Ross on Tuesday. “It’s critical to our economy, to our global competitiveness, and to our national security. I am honored to fight for job creation and stability, while continuing to cut back government red tape that forces companies to find cheap labor abroad. By creating jobs and using the manufacturing industry as a platform for new employment, we are establishing solutions to a number of economic issues. It’s a win-win situation.”

“Manufacturers in Florida and throughout the United States are making a comeback, creating jobs, making more products and making them better than ever before,” said Aric Newhouse, NAM’s senior vice president of policy and government relations. “However, manufacturers are often disproportionately impacted by decisions made by policymakers in Washington. The NAM is proud to stand with lawmakers like Rep. Ross who understand what is at stake and seek to implement policies that will foster innovation, growth and competitiveness.”
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