Sunshine State News Blogs

If you missed "Live with Lori, Political Food for Thought" Wednesday morning, then you missed Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, aboard Royal Carribean's Allure of the Seas preparing shrimp-crab cake with a creamy remoulade sauce -- all the while talking politics with host Lori Halbert.

Edwards covered a variety of topics in the half-hour program -- duck hunting, her law clients, the need for economic development in rural communities in the middle of the state, equipping elementary schools with mental health counselors, Common Core, medical marijuana, and especially revisiting the state's approach to criminal sentencing reform to end minimum mandatory sentencing.

The entire show with Katie Edwards is available by clicking here.

Now in its fifth season, the all-Florida show is a cross between a CNN news segment and something from the Food Channel. Each week Halbert "serves up a little 'Political Food for Thought,'" interviewing politicians from across the state while teaching them how to prepare a specialty meal.

On previous shows 'Live with Lori' has featured Senate President Don Gaetz, Congressman Bill Posey, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

It airs at 7:30 a.m. Wednesdays on Sun Sports.

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Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist have taken on two new and unexpected forms in the latest ad from the College Republican National Committee -- they're wedding dresses.

Paying homage to the hit TLC Show "Say Yes to the Dress," where brides try on, scrutinize and (hopefully) fall in love with potential wedding dresses, the ad contrasts the two politicians as if they were haute bridal couture.

Like many brides, the woman in the ad is on a budget. She tries on the Republican Rick Scott dress first and is immediately captivated by it. She says Rick Scott has "new ideas that won't break your budget."

Her mother, however, has different ideas -- she prefers the Charlie Crist, which comes with additional costs like tuition increases and taxes. 

To see which dress the woman chose, check the ad out below:
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Thad Hamilton, the Democratic candidate running against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, disagrees with his Republican rival on Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State. On Wednesday, Putnam strongly attacked the proposal.

Hamilton talked to Sunshine State News on Wednesday and said he backed Amendment 2.

“I support it 100 percent,” Hamilton told Sunshine State News. “There is no reason why we should not be taking care ... of the residents of the state of Florida.”

Hamilton pointed toward the benefits medical marijuana could provide for ill patients across the Sunshine State.

“If medical marijuana provides relief for their critical needs, we should support it 100 percent,” Hamilton said.

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State CFO Jeff Atwater, a solid favorite over Democrat William Rankin in November, showcased a new Web video on Wednesday in which he talks about how his parents have shaped his life.

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“My mother and father taught my siblings and me that we have a duty – a responsibility to God, to family, and to country,” said Atwater on Wednesday. “They led by example every day and he expected us to live it out every day, too.”
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Republican congressional candidate Carol Platt went on the attack on Wednesday, launching a new website attacking U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., on a host of fronts, from domestic violence allegations to his record on foreign policy.

“Alan Grayson tries to say that he's a congressman with guts,” Platt said on Wednesday. “The reality is, he's a congressman without honor. His behavior, language and complete disrespect for our district is embarrassing. The voters of our district need to know the truth.

"Our effort will be very straightforward,” Platt added. “We don't need to make comments or add messages to Alan Grayson's antics. They speak for themselves. We're just going to present the facts, the news stories, the videos, the audio of the man. The voters will decide if he's the kind of man they want representing them."
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In Central Florida on Wednesday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and the Florida Chamber of Commerce came out swinging at Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State.

“The legalization of marijuana has the potential to destroy Florida’s sterling reputation as a family-friendly and business-friendly state,” said Putnam. “Not only does this poorly written amendment give anyone with as much as a headache access to this gateway drug, the legalization of marijuana would severely impact small businesses and corporations alike. As we are making our way out of the greatest recession in decades, the last thing we need is to create a climate that will decrease productivity and increase risk for businesses.”

“Normally we focus on creating jobs, improving education and making Florida more competitive, but this is the type of business Florida can do without,” said Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

Wilson turned his fire to John Morgan, the trial attorney who led efforts to get Amendment 2 on the ballot.

 “I find it curious that the largest funder of this push to legalize pot is a personal injury trial lawyer firm, yet such measures are overwhelmingly opposed by Florida’s medical and law enforcement community,” Wilson said. “Florida voters are smart and when the facts are on the table, I believe they will say no to drugs in Florida.”
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The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) waded into one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation on Wednesday when it backed Miami Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo, the Republican candidate challenging U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November.

““Carlos Curbelo is the clear pro-small business candidate in this critical race for Florida’s 26th Congressional District,"” said Bill Herrle, the NFIB’s Florida’ chapter’s executive director. ““Carlos has proven that he is committed to standing up for pro-growth policies and fighting to reduce the burdens placed on small business by the federal government, and we’re confident he will be a dependable voice for the small business in Washington, DC."
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U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., a member of the U.S House Intelligence Committee, ripped President Barack Obama’s handling of Islamic State (IS) terrorist forces in the Middle East on Tuesday.

“Congress has known for months that IS poses a significant national security threat, and that it needs to be destroyed,” Rooney said on Tuesday. “If Congress knew that IS was a serious threat, and the media knew, and the American people knew, then why didn’t the president? Why did he insist that IS was a ‘JV squad’?

“Despite the president’s pathetic attempt to shift blame, this was not an intelligence community failure; it was a failure by him to act on the unequivocal intelligence assessments he received,” Rooney added. “The president should accept responsibility and apologize to the American people for this gross incompetence. To claim that the intelligence community underestimated the threat is an insult to those professionals and to the American people.”
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Facing a challenge from Democratic challenger Gwen Graham, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland is getting help from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). On Tuesday, the NFIB unveiled an online election site to help Southerland and began a digital ad campaign on his behalf.

““Increasing federal regulations, rising health-care costs, and higher taxes streaming out of Washington continue to punish small businesses in Florida,"” said Lisa Goeas, a vice president of the NFIB. ““We need candidates like Steve Southerland in Congress, who understand the struggles of small businesses and will stand up and fight for policies that allow Main Street to grow and prosper.””
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On Tuesday, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, named former state Rep. Jerry Melvin to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs Council. Melvin is currently the resident of the Okaloosa Elder Services board.

“Rep. Melvin understands the needs and concerns of older Floridians through his long and distinguished service in public office and as a community volunteer for those who need help to live at home or in assisted living facilities,” Gaetz said. “And Jerry certainly knows his way around Tallahassee and the agencies that deal with health care and elderly affairs matters. He will be a strong advocate for making our state more responsive to the concerns of our parents and grandparents.”

First elected to the Florida House in 1968, Melvin served 10 years in the House. He ran again in 1994 and served until 2002 when he faced term limits. Melvin’s term ends on Oct. 1, 2017.
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Drawing on his experience as a large-animal veterinarian as well as his perch on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to freeze importing beef from Brazil.

Earlier this month, Yoho wrote  Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Administrator Kevin Shea asking to end beef imported from Brazil until the  Government Accountability Office  (GAO) studies it.

“Historically, Brazil has had issues with the highly contagious and most economically damaging livestock viruses in the world, Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD),” Yoho said on Tuesday. “The United States has been free from FMD since 1929 and reintroduction of the disease would pose a significant threat to the health and well-being of our national livestock herds.”

Yoho pointed to a federal Food Safety Inspection Service report earlier this year which showed major problems with Brazil’s food safety processes and previous FMD problems in that South American nation.
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla,, pointed to a legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which showed monies designated for President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law can’t be used to salvage insurance companies without congressional approval.

“As many of us predicted, Obamacare is a failure that forces the American people to not only buy health insurance, but also forces the American taxpayer to bail out insurance companies that incur a loss under the Obamacare exchanges,” said Rubio on Tuesday. “The fact that we have to bail out Obamacare in the first place tells us the law is a failure.

“We should not be bailing out a failure,” Rubio continued. “Given the Obama administration’s history of taking executive action to rewrite Obamacare and ignoring the legislative process, Congress needs to make sure taxpayers don’t end up paying for an Obamacare bailout in 2015 or ever.”
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WFLA and SurveyUSA released a poll late on Tuesday which shows Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana use, continuing to struggle to reach 60 percent, the threshold it needs to pass on the November ballot.

The poll shows 52 percent of likely voters support Amendment 2 while 33 percent oppose it and 14 percent remain undecided. Two weeks ago, the WFLA/SurveyUSA showed the measure with 56 percent support to 31 percent opposed. SurveyUSA stressed the poll was taken during Rosh Hashanah which could factor into its results.

The poll of 584 likely voters was taken from Sept. 26-29 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.

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WFLA and SurveyUSA released a poll late Tuesday evening which shows former Gov. Charlie Crist taking 46 percent and Gov. Rick Scott behind with 40 percent in the hotly contest Florida gubernatorial race.

Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 8 percent, while 6 percent are still undecided.

Noting that their poll showed Scott ahead by 1 point, SurveyUSA stressed the poll was taken during Rosh Hashanah which could account for the 7-point swing over a week.

The poll also has an equal sampling of Republicans and Democrats -- 40 percent each -- with the rest of the sample coming outside the major parties. Traditionally in off-year elections, Republican turnout is higher than Democrats.

The poll of 584 likely voters was taken from Sept. 26-29 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.
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Looking to protect U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., from a serious challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) unleashed a new TV ad on Tuesday bringing up her past. The new ad ties Graham to former Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vt., during his 2004 presidential campaign, calling her a “key aide.”

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Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, also noted that Graham went on to work for then U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., during the 2004 presidential campaign after Dean lost in the Democratic primaries.

“Gwen Graham has spent her career working as a political insider for extreme liberals like Howard Dean and John Kerry,” Prill said on Tuesday. “Now Gwen wants to go to Washington and continue to push Nancy Pelosi’s extreme agenda like Obamacare. We can’t trust Gwen Graham in Congress.”
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U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., took aim at President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law over abortion on Monday. In a message to constituents, Miller weighed in on his thoughts on a report noting public monies were used to provide abortions:

As a staunch pro-life supporter, I was outraged to see the recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finding that the administration has failed to prevent taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions in insurance plans offered on Obamacare exchanges. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has barred taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions, with limited exceptions only for cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is endangered. I, and millions of Americans, find it unconscionable for the government to spend taxpayer money on abortions. President Obama understood how important respecting this issue was, directly promising the American people, in front of a Joint Session of Congress convened to discuss his health care proposal, “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”

In fact, statutory language was included in Obamacare to require a separate payment for abortion coverage, so that taxpayer funds would not be used to subsidize abortions, and Executive Order No. 13535 was issued to "establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered)." Yet, GAO found that abortions are being paid for with taxpayer funds by more than 1,000 exchange plans across the country. And this only covers the 18 insurers that GAO studied, all but one of which were not billing separately for abortion coverage.

The administration needs to fix this immediately, and the Senate should take up the House-passed bill, HR 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would further the Hyde Amendment by prohibiting taxpayer funds from being used to fund any abortion whatsoever, prohibiting taxpayer funds from being used for any health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion, and prohibiting any health plan that includes coverage of abortion from being eligible for Obamacare subsidies. This GAO report is an appalling revelation that yet another of the president’s Obamacare promises is being broken, and the American people can have little confidence that any of the president’s Obamacare promises will be upheld.
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Facing a tough challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham in November, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., took off the gloves and went after his opponent on Monday, saying she flip-flopped on Florida’s legal fight with Georgia over water headed to Apalachicola Bay. Southerland pointed to statements Graham made in the spring and at the start of August in which she questioned whether the legal fight was the way to go before changing her tune last week.
 
“Our oystermen and coastal communities deserve consistent leadership and a representative who’s willing to fight for them,” said Southerland. “Gwen Graham has proven she’ll provide neither. She’s argued for months that Florida’s lawsuit was not ‘in the best interest’ of Apalachicola Bay and only flipped her position in the election’s closing weeks. We can’t trust someone in Congress who will argue both sides of an issue as important as this. Georgia is working nonstop to steal our water, and I’m fighting tooth and nail to stop them. That was the case two months ago, and it will be the case two months from now.”
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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is running strong with five weeks to go until the general election. Putnam faces Democrat Thad Hamilton in November who served on the Broward County Soil and Water Commission.

According to a poll from the  Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI) released on Monday, Putnam holds a solid lead with 41 percent while Hamilton follows with 29 percent. Putnam has the support of the Florida Chamber.

The poll of 813 likely voters was taken from Sept. 18-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.
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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater looks all set for four more years in Tallahassee, according to a new poll.
 
The poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI), which is affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, shows Atwater with a commanding lead over businessman William Rankin, the Democratic nominee. The Florida Chamber is backing Atwater in the race.

In the poll, which was released on Monday, Atwater takes 43 percent. Rankin trails behind with 27 percent support.

The poll of 813 likely voters was taken from Sept. 18-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

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A new poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI), which is affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, shows Attorney General Pam Bondi in solid shape to win re-election in November.

The Florida Chamber is backing Bondi, who has a strong lead over former DCF Secretary George Sheldon, the Democratic nominee who served as deputy attorney general under then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Sheldon won the Democratic primary last month over Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale.

In the new poll, Bondi takes 48 percent while Sheldon garners 31 percent. Tallahassee attorney Bill Wohlsifer, the Libertarian nominee in the race, was not included in the poll.

The poll of 813 likely voters was taken from Sept. 18-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.
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The Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI), affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, released a poll on Monday which shows Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, is a jump ball with five weeks to go.

The poll of likely voters shows 59 percent support Amendment 2 while 35 percent oppose it. To pass in November, 60 percent of voters must support Amendment 2 for it to be included in the Florida Constitution.

The poll of 813 likely voters was taken from Sept. 18-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.
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The Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI), affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, released a poll on Monday which has Scott out front with 43 percent while Crist garners 39 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 4 percent while 5 percent back other candidates and 7 percent are undecided. The Florida Chamber is backing Scott for another term.

The poll shows both Scott and Crist are doing well with their bases. Scott is backed by 73 percent of Republicans while 72 percent of Democrats support Crist, who left the GOP in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation before joining the Democrats in December 2012. Voters outside the two major parties go Scott’s way 41 percent while Crist takes 34 percent. Wyllie draws the backing of 8 percent of voters outside the major parties and 3 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats.

“Florida voters are smart,” said Marian Johnson, a senior vice president of the FCPI, on Monday. “They continue recognizing Gov. Scott is doing what he said he would do. More than 640,000 private-sector jobs have been created since December 2010, our education initiatives are working, and Florida families and small businesses continue to see opportunities for growth. The fact that a majority of polls throughout the last six to eight weeks show voters continuing to prefer Rick Scott over other candidates is a sign that his numbers are solid.”

“I believe a major reason Charlie Crist is visibly losing support is because voters are beginning to realize that Rick Scott’s focus on jobs is working and that Florida continues to move in the right direction,” said Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

The poll of 813 likely voters was taken from Sept. 18-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released a new TV ad on Monday painting former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee challenging Gov. Rick Scott in November, as a flip-flopper. The ad mocks Crist leaving the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation in 2010 before joining the Democrats in 2012. The ad also jabs Crist for changing his positions on President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law, abortion and the federal stimulus.

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“I worked with both Charlie Crist and Rick Scott,” said Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, on Monday. “With Charlie Crist, I never knew where he stood on the issues because he made flips that would make an Olympic gymnast dizzy. But I could always take Gov. Scott’s word to the bank, because he’s someone who does exactly what he says he will do. There’s no doubt Charlie Crist is a skilled debater – that happens when you have a lot of experience debating against yourself.”
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Over this past weekend, gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian nominee challenging Gov. Rick Scott this year, focused on education and came out swinging at Common Core.

“School districts in Florida spend on average $12,000 per student annually. Some Florida school districts have budgets that exceed $1,000,000,000 ($1 billion),” Wyllie noted on Saturday. “Is the problem really that we’re not spending enough money on public education or is it that we’re not spending that money properly? The solution is to give parents the option to choose what is best for their own children and to create an environment where affordable, free-market education options can flourish.

“I will fight to repeal Common Core, and I will reject or nullify any unconstitutional federal usurpation of our children’s education,” Wyllie added. “My team and I are working on a comprehensive education policy that will improve education quality, reduce cost, and offer you more choices when it comes to educating your children.”

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At an event in Washington, D.C., on Monday, former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., announced he was backing Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, the Republican nominee running against U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November.  West, a favorite of the tea party movement who has left the door open to a comeback in 2016, made the endorsement through his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC.

“Carlos embodies the American dream and American exceptionalism,” said West, “We need voices like Carlos’ to bring the message of true conservatism to the Hispanic community, in order to articulate that it is through sound fiscal and economic policies, rather than government dependency, that long-lasting advancement and prosperity can be achieved.”

West’s PAC has endorsed 13 general election candidates so far for November but Curbelo is the first candidate from Florida to receive its support. On Monday, West promised he would back one more candidate in the middle of October.
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On Friday, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, named former state Rep. DeeDee Davis to the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council. While her background is mainly in education, including being named Florida Teacher of the Year in 1990 and to the Florida Educators Hall of Fame in 1998, the same year she was elected to the House as a Democrat, Davis helped found the Pensacola Bay International Film and Television Festival back in 2003. Davis had been married to former state Rep. Buzz Ritchie and ran for the Florida Senate in 2000 but came up short against Republican candidate Durell Peaden.

“The people of our state are very fortunate to have the benefit of DeeDee’s unique abilities and insights in this important role,” said Gaetz. “Her strong background and expertise in education, the arts and economic development make a perfect combination of credentials for guiding and promoting our state’s growing film and entertainment industries.”
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Former state Rep. Carl Domino, the Republican candidate challenging U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., released a new TV ad over the past weekend which showcases his service in the Navy and his commitment to securing the border. The new ad looks to link Murphy to “Washington liberals” such as President Barack Obama and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott said the state debt had been paid down by $400 million this year. During Scott’s time in office, the state debt went from $28.2 billion to its current $24.2 billion.

“During the last few years, Florida’s economy has experienced a tremendous turnaround,” Scott said on Friday. “By focusing on paying down debt, cutting taxes and eliminating burdensome regulation, we’ve created an environment where Florida’s private sector can grow. Since 2010, Florida has paid down $4 billion in state debt, Florida businesses have created over 640,000 jobs and we have cut taxes over 40 times. I am proud of the work we have accomplished, but we must remain focused on fiscal responsibility and job creation in the Sunshine State.”
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Gov. Rick Scott hit Jacksonville on Friday to announce GE Oil & Gas is building a new facility, creating 500 jobs and adding $50 million to the First Coast’s economy.

“The new GE Oil & Gas facility in Jacksonville will bring at least 500 jobs, giving even more Florida families the opportunity to live the American dream,” Scott said on Friday. “Last year we eliminated the sales tax on manufacturing equipment in order to build up manufacturing in our state, and now businesses like GE Oil & Gas can save money and be more competitive. Florida businesses have already created more than 640,000 private-sector jobs since December 2010, so let’s keep working to provide even more opportunities for Florida families.”

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown also praised the news on Friday.

“We’re excited that GE has selected Jacksonville as the site for a major advanced manufacturing facility,” said Brown. “We competed against a number of other communities for this great economic opportunity, and we won. It shows that Jacksonville is a city of opportunity and a great place to do business. My vision is to create jobs for Jacksonville, and we’re turning that vision into reality. I want to thank the City Council for its support, as well as our many partners who helped us secure these jobs for Jacksonville.”

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The Florida Council of 100 announced on Friday it was opposing Amendment 2, a proposal to increase medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State. To pass, Amendment 2 needs 60 percent on the ballot in November.

“The dangers of the use of Schedule I drugs such as marijuana are well-documented,” said Steve Halverson, the chairman of the Florida Council of 100, on Friday. “The provisions of Amendment 2 threaten Floridians’ quality of life because they are too nebulous, too loose and too lacking in common-sense protection from inappropriate and dangerous use.”

“The comprehensiveness of the recent Charlotte’s Web legislation demonstrates the extreme care and precision with which the issue of drug legalization must always be contemplated,” added Susan Pareigis, the president and CEO of the Florida Council of 100. “State policymakers are fully equipped to address such topics without cluttering the Constitution with dangerously ambiguous new programs.”
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