Sunshine State News Blogs

Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., announced that the state unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent in December as the state added 11,500 jobs. When Scott took office at the start of 2011, the state unemployment rate stood at 11.1 percent.

“Today we are excited to announce that Florida businesses added 11,500 private-sector jobs in December, for a total of 728,500 private-sector jobs created in only four years, and we look forward to seeing even more businesses grow and create jobs for families across the state,” Scott said on Friday. “As we prepare to release our 2015-2016 'Keep Florida Working’ budget recommendations, we will stay laser-focused on our goal of making Florida the global destination for business and job creation.”

This marks the lowest state unemployment rate since April 2008.

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From his perch as chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., is calling to give the secretary of Veterans Affairs more power to discipline incompetent senior executive service (SES) employees. Miller introduced a bill giving the VA secretary more flexibility in disciplining underperfoming SES employees, including reducing pensions, reducing time on forced paid administrative leave, reforming appraisals for bonus and adding more transparency.

Miller left no room for doubt that his bill was the result of reports of last year on how the VA dealt with altered waiting lists at medical facilities across the country.

“More than nine months after the VA scandal, Americans are asking ‘where is the accountability?’ Unfortunately, VA doesn’t have a good answer to this question,” Miller said. "That’s why our focus remains on giving the VA secretary more tools to ensure corrupt and incompetent executives face serious consequences for mismanagement and malfeasance that harms veterans. Right now, the task at hand for VA leaders is replacing the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability, and we are going to give them everything they need to do get the job done.”

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U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, doubled down on his support of the FairTax proposal on Thursday.

“Across Northeast Florida and the nation, citizens are spending billions of dollars and hours navigating a complex tax code – time and money that could be better spent growing our economy and creating jobs,” Crenhaw said on Thursday. “Putting a FairTax in place solves that issue and deserves immediate consideration by Congress.

“The easy-to-understand FairTax would wipe out thousands of pages of regulations and loopholes and leave in place a transparent national sales tax on goods and services administered primarily by the state,” Crenshaw added. “Federal income taxes and the FICA payroll tax would be eliminated, and the IRS would no longer be needed. The poor are protected and everyone is treated equally: no exemptions, no exclusions, no advantages. Americans would be allowed to keep their entire paycheck and spend hard-earned dollars on ways that best suit them. On the business side, labor costs are lowered by eliminating payroll taxes, allowing companies to hire more workers.

“Americans know best how to spend their money and deserve to keep more of their paycheck in their wallets and bank accounts,” Crenshaw concluded. “They don’t need to be finding more dollars to send to Washington to fund big and costly government programs.”

Crenshaw is one of more than 60 co-sponsors to the FairTax proposal authored by U.S. Rob Woodall, R-Ga.

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U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., one of the senior members sitting on the U.S. House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, wrote President Barack Obama on Thursday, vowing to work with the White House on free trade agreements. Buchanan supports the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

"In your State of the Union address you expressed a willingness to work with Congress on expanding international trade opportunities that will help grow the U.S. economy and create American jobs. Offer accepted,” Buchanan wrote.

“As a senior member of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, I understand that increasing access to foreign markets is critical to restoring America’s rightful standing as the world’s global leader,” Buchanan continued. “In your words ‘China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region.' We cannot allow this to happen. 

“A pending free-trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other countries, including Japan, offers us a prime opportunity to turbo-charge our economy by eliminating tariffs and expanding American exports. The countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) account for 40 percent of global economic output and nearly a third of all world trade,” Buchanan added. “However, the best way to ensure an open and transparent process where American jobs and companies are protected is by passing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. Also known as ‘fast-track’ authority, TPA allows expedited consideration of trade agreements – provided that certain congressionally-dictated safeguards are met. TPA offers the ability to obtain an up-or-down vote on a trade agreement, which is critical to ensure that the U.S. maintains leverage in complex multination negotiations.”

But Buchanan pointed out to Obama that most of the opposition to TPA is coming from the left.

“Special interests and members of your own party have expressed opposition to TPA,” Buchanan wrote. “I would encourage you to personally reach out to these factions so we can build support for this critical legislation. A recent poll by the Business Round-table revealed the vast majority – more than 80 percent of Americans – support the U.S. negotiating trade agreements to expand market access for goods and services around the globe. I believe that increasing global demand for American products will lead to greater growth here at home.

“Bipartisan trade agreements could serve as an excellent example of what Washington can accomplish when both parties come together to help create jobs and increase America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace,” Buchanan concluded. “Let’s get to work.”

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No, sorry ... cool your jets, Charlie isn't standing trial.

But the former Republican governor-turned-independent-turned-Democratic governor-candidate showed up at the Pinellas County Justice Center this morning for jury duty.

According to a brief item in the Tampa Bay Times today, Charlie Crist, resident of St. Petersburg, was hanging out in a jury assembly room with dozens of other prospective jurors, waiting to see if he would be selected for a case.

No major cases were on the docket Wednesday, the Times story said.

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The trial to determine whether U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson's wife committed bigamy at the time of their marriage is being held up on account of breast implants. 

Court documents filed this week said Lolita Grayson had been complaining of chest pain and went to the emergency room where they broke the news she'd have to go through emergency surgery to remove her leaking breast implants. 

The court date was originally scheduled for Thursday but has now been moved to March. Grayson's surgery was scheduled for Monday. 

Rep. Grayson claims their marriage was never valid because Lolita Grayson was married to another man at the time, but she says she was divorced.
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Government watchdog group Integrity Florida today called on federal authorities to investigate potential violations of the civil rights conspiracy statute by state government officials in Florida.

In a prepared statement, the organization pointed to a recent Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald report that former Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Gerald Bailey alleged Gov. Rick Scott and his top advisers conspired to falsely name Colleen Reilly, then acting clerk of court in Orange County, as the target of a criminal inquiry.

Integrity Florida requested a federal investigation in a letter sent Wednesday to Michelle Klimt, special agent in charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Jacksonville and Pamela March, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

"The allegations made by former Commissioner Bailey are troubling," said Dan Krassner, executive director of Integrity Florida in the statement. "While the public should not rush to judgment, this is a serious matter that merits a federal investigation."

"A political agenda should never interfere with the authority and responsibility of FDLE to protect and serve the public trust," said Krassner. "Floridians deserve answers about whether Gov. Scott and his top aides attempted to abuse the authority of FDLE. Integrity Florida is encouraged by the bipartisan concerns raised by top state officials about the questionable removal of Commissioner Bailey. In addition to the need for a federal investigation, alleged violations of state laws should also be reviewed by the appropriate oversight agencies and legislative committees."

But Tim Cerio, Scott's general counsel, responded categorically, “These allegations are false.” 

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After Blaise Ingoglia unseated Rick Scott's hand-picked Leslie Dougher as the Republican Party of Florida's newest chair, three prominent party staffers resigned from their positions. 

Communications director for the Republican Party of Florida, Susan Hepworth, and Andrew Abdel-Malik, RPOF digital director, both resigned from their respective posts effective immediately, according to Matt Dixon of the Naples Daily News.

The two resignations follow another high-profile party staffer leaving his post: RPOF Executive Director Justin Johnson resigned a few hours after Ingoglia was elected.
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The American Federation for Children, which calls itself the nation’s voice for educational choice, released the following statement from executive counsel Kevin P. Chavous in response to President Obama's State of the Union address:

"President Obama’s remarks on education were a great disappointment to those of us working to help kids struggling in failing schools across America. The president has long expressed interest in helping children attend Pre-K and today he wants to help more kids go to college -- all of which is laudable. But the obvious question is: What about the millions of kids in between?

“There is only one immediate answer to helping parents with children in failing schools -- an issue supported by increasing numbers of Democrats and Republicans alike -- and that is educational choice.

“As a former elected official who saw the benefits of school choice in D.C., I find it heartbreaking that the president remains stubbornly in-line with those who oppose any meaningful reforms to an antiquated education system. By ignoring the needs of children between K-12 who are stuck in schools that do not meet their needs, the president runs the risk of being on the wrong side of the most important civil rights issue of this generation.”

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One of the highlight's of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday will be a $500 tax credit for families with two earners -- a plan the White House says will benefit 24 million couples by covering "additional costs" in the average American household.

The problem is, however, that the $500 tax credit won't go very far. 

White House administration officials have said the tax credit will benefit families earning up to $210,000, a number four times as much as the typical middle class income of $52,000.

The tax credit wouldn't amount to much -- as reported by the Washington Examiner, child care can cost up to $279 per week, meaning Obama's tax-credit wouldn't even cover two weeks' worth of day care. 

The credit wouldn't amount to much for an Obama dining experience, either -- the $500 tax credit also couldn't cover dinner for two at Honolulu's Vintage Cave restaurant, where the Obamas dined on New Year's Day. Per person, the tab runs $295 -- and that's before drinks are calculated into the bill.
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Enterprise Florida will be holding its quarterly board of directors meeting in Tallahassee on Thursday.

Gov. Rick Scott will be present at the meeting, which is set to include a legislative and economic development outlook as well as an update on the Team Florida Partnership, a statewide campaign to promote Florida businesses. During the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the partnership raised $1.4 million to support the campaign’s efforts, "helping to reach site consultants and business decision-makers worldwide."

Gray Swoope, who will be departing from EFI next month, will give a question and answer session at the meeting.

The Florida Channel will broadcast the meeting live. 
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Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz , R-Fort Walton Beach, the chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee, looks ready to give the green light to Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to cut the communication service tax (CST) by $500 million. Gaetz even called for more tax cuts than the ones Scott proposed on cellphones and TV services.

"Last year, we had a goal to provide $500 million in tax relief to all Floridians,”Gaetz said. “We met that goal and this year Gov. Scott is once again leading the way on tax relief. His proposed tax cuts are bold and look to bring even more relief to the residents of Florida. As chairman of the Finance and Tax Committee, the governor’s plan is our starting point. In my committee, no tax is safe. It is the goal of the House of Representatives to find even more ways to decrease the tax burden on Florida's families."

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From his perch on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, which handles taxation issues, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., came out swinging against President Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes $320 billion over the next 10 years.

“The president needs to understand that we live in an aspirational society, one where you don’t need to punish one group to allow another to prosper,” Buchanan said on Tuesday. “Americans are not looking for a handout. They are simply asking government to cut the red tape, keep taxes low and stop enacting burdensome regulations that stifle job growth.

“Right now we have a tax code that punishes everyone, from families trying to make ends meet to employers trying to compete in the global marketplace,” Buchanan added. “We need to create a simpler, fairer, pro-growth tax code that fuels the economy and helps put Americans back to work. Serious times call for serious solutions. Unfortunately, the president’s proposal is reckless and misguided.”

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New Jersey might be Gov. Chris Christie’s, R-N.J., backyard but former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., plans to hit the Garden State.

The Bergen County Record is reporting that Bush is mining major Republican donors in New Jersey. Bush has already announced an exploratory presidential effort while Christie also has his eyes on running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

H/T Politicalwire

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On Tuesday Gov. Rick Scott called for cutting Florida’s communication service tax (CST) by $470 million. Scott insisted a family spending $100 a month on cellphones and cable will save $43 a year.

“With our cellphone and TV tax cut, every Florida family is saving real money -- around $40 a year for spending as little as $100 a month between cellphone, cable and satellite bills,” Scott said on Tuesday. “Our economy is improving and while it’s tempting for government to always think they can spend your money better than you – it’s your money!”

In recent years, CST tax cuts have been proposed in the Legislature with Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, leading efforts in the Florida Senate.

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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., placed second behind former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., in the 2012 Republican primaries and there are signs in recent days that he, like his former rival, has his eyes on another bid in 2016.

Despite winning 11 contests in 2012, including the Iowa caucus, Santorum often encountered fundraising woes during his presidential campaign. On Tuesday, Santorum looked to ensure that would not sink him in 2016 by announcing his finance team for his Patriot Voices PAC.

Santorum is turning to Nadine Maenza for help, who worked for him, Romney’s 2008 presidential bid, the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., the Pennsylvania GOP and the Republican National Committee (RNC). Maenza is not the only former Romney hand joining the Santorum team. Former U.S. Assistant Labor Secretary Rob Bickhart will be Patriot Voices finance director after serving in the same post at the RNC and as deputy finance director for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Bickhart helped out Romney in 2008 and 2012. Roy Jones, the former chief development officer for conservative evangelical Liberty University, also joined the PAC.

"I am excited to announce the addition of Roy Jones and Rob Bickhart to our growing national team to complement the successful fundraising efforts of Patriot Voices Executive Director Nadine Maenza," Santorum said on Tuesday. "Nadine, Rob, and Roy will play a crucial role in ensuring we have the resources necessary to be a leader in the coming national debate, particularly as we tackle challenges confronting blue-collar families across this country. Their years of experience in raising hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of clients will be an intangible asset to our organization in the weeks and months to come."

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At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., starting his first full term in Congress, announced he will serve on three Appropriations subcommittees: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs;Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Commerce, Justice and Science.

“I'm excited that these assignments reflect many of my priorities in Congress and will allow me to continue the work I started in the 113th Congress while serving on Veterans Affairs and Transportation and Infrastructure,” Jolly said on Friday. “Namely, working tirelessly on health care and benefits for our nation's veterans, including housing and homelessness initiatives. Additionally I will have the opportunity to continue working on issues related to transportation, flood insurance, beach renourishment, and critical environmental and marine science priorities. Finally, with the added Military Construction responsibilities, I look forward to work related to our reserve facilities here in Pinellas as well as installations like MacDill Air Force Base and other critical spots around the globe

“On Appropriations we will scrutinize virtually every federal program, identify and eliminate duplicative federal services and areas of waste, fraud, and abuse,” Jolly added. “The committee is also the body that identifies areas of critical national investment, from national security to early childhood education, to the environment, to transportation and infrastructure.”

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State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, the newly elected chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), named David Johnson and Pablo Diaz in charge of his transition team on Tuesday.

"I am grateful that David and Pablo have agreed to guide the party through this transition. I have known them both for years and count them as friends and colleagues,” Ingoglia said. “They are both well-respected veterans of the RPOF and I know they will provide me with sound counsel and advice as we make a smooth transition and prepare the party for victory.”

Johnson served as executive director of the RPOF during the 2002 elections and has been active in Florida politics for years. Diaz has also been active in Florida GOP politics, including leading Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election efforts last year.

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An American contractor who was recently released after spending five years in a Cuban prison will be sitting alongside first lady Michelle Obama at Tuesday's State of the Union address.

Alan Gross was released last month as part of a larger deal by President Barack Obama to normalize relations with Cuba. At the time of his release, Gross was serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly attempting to undermine the Havana government for the United States. 

"While in Cuba, Alan wrote the president letters and since returning has expressed his support for the actions the president’s taken with respect to Cuba,” read a press release from the White House. 

Gross and his wife will be part of 22 guests invited to sit in the first lady's box, which is reserved for Americans who the White House believes best illustrate their policies at work. 

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Florida House Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, was named on Monday by GOPAC to its 2015 Legislative Leaders Advisory Board.

“The members of our 2015 Legislative Leaders Advisory Board will have an important role in educating and electing a new generation of Republican leaders,” said GOPAC Chairman David Avella on Monday. “Their involvement will strengthen our mission to build a healthy roster of prepared and tested state leaders who are ready to lead in their legislatures and/or run for higher office."

Young was the only member of the Florida Legislature named by GOPAC on Monday.

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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater will hit the streets of the nations‘s oldest city to help former Rep. Travis Hutson over former Rep. Doc Renuart in the special election to replace John Thrasher in the Florida Senate. Atwater announced on Friday that he will campaign with Hutson in St. Augustine to urge that voters back the former state representative in the Jan. 27 primary.

“I am proud to walk door-to-door with Travis this Saturday and encourage the voters of Northeast Florida to support him on Election Day,” said Atwater. “Travis is a genuine conservative who wants to reduce waste, decrease government spending, and create and bring more jobs to our great state. Travis understands the vital need for fiscal responsibility and, as a lifelong resident of Northeast Florida, he knows what is best for Senate District 6. Travis is the Republican candidate for this job.”

“I am thrilled that CFO Atwater will be joining us Saturday to walk door-to-door in support of our campaign for Senate District 6,” Hutson said. “We share many of the same values and beliefs, and are both conservatives who are determined to do what is best for the First Coast and all Floridians. I am truly humbled to have the support of CFO Atwater.”

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Earlier this week former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., passed on leadership of his Guardian Fund PAC to U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga. On Friday, Loudermilk outlined his agenda for the PAC in the 2016 election cycle.

“Under the exceptional leadership of Allen West, the Guardian Fund led a grassroots conservative movement that led the way in taking the Senate back from liberal control and expanding our conservative majority in the House,” Lourdermilk emailed supporters on Friday. “Colonel West always leads by example, valuing decisive action over cheap talk. And I'm honored that he's asked me to follow him as chairman of the Guardian Fund. It's my intention to carry the torch forward as he would -- with direct action against the liberals who are trying to destroy America by sending strong constitutional conservatives to serve in Washington.

“Allen West played a major role in helping me get to Congress,” Loudermilk continued. “I am an Air Force veteran who served in intelligence during the Cold War, and when I made the decision to run for Congress, it was because I wanted to preserve liberty for my children and grandchildren. The Guardian Fund shares that desire and stood by me through victory in November. Now it's my turn to lead and I'm ready to go to the ends of the earth to fight for veterans, constitutional conservatives, and minority candidates, all of which we need more of in Washington.”

Calling President Barack Obama “dangerous,” Loudermilk tore into the president’s record on terrorism and immigration.

“Barack Obama, with his failed leftist ideology, is putting America at risk,” Loudermilk insisted. “Just like Allen West, I swore an oath to defend this country and its Constitution that I intend to uphold. The fight is on.”

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Leslie Dougher is picking up more endorsements in the final hours before the Republican Party of Florida votes to elect its next chair. 

On Friday, Republican National Committee Chair Sharon Day tipped her hat to Dougher, saying she should be re-elected as RPOF chairwoman. 

Day noted it's typical for RNC members to stay out of the election process, but ultimately decided to offer her public support for Dougher. Earlier this week, RNC committeeman Peter Feaman endorsed Kurt Kelly for the position of chair. 

"No matter how hard we may look … there is no perfect chairman … we will never find that one individual that fits our every need," wrote Day. "Each chairman has their own style, faces their own challenges, has their own strengths and weaknesses, and serves in their own unique time and each chairman leads our party to success or failure.  We were successful and Leslie deserves to share that success."

The official vote for RPOF chair will be held Saturday in Orlando. 
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With both former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., and former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., looking at running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Brett Doster, one of the leading Republican strategists in the Sunshine State, is putting his chips behind the former Florida governor.

Phil Ammann over at Florida Politics caught up with Doster for his opinion on who would be a better candidate in Florida. Doster, despite having been a key part of Romney’s Florida team in 2012, left no room for doubt: he thinks Bush has a far better shot in 2016.

“Mitt Romney was a great leader for our party in 2012,” Doster noted in an email to Florida Politics, “but Jeb is my man, and Florida is Jeb Bush country.”

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While U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, will be giving the official Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., will offer the Spanish translation.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Curbelo was selected for the Spanish translation on Thursday.

“Carlos Curbelo is a fresh voice with a positive vision for a future of opportunity and prosperity,’ Boehner said. “He is exactly what Washington needs, and the person Americans should hear from in this time of challenge and opportunity for our country.”

“It is a true privilege to deliver the Spanish-language Republican address,” Curbelo said. “As part of America’s New Congress, I am excited to work with my colleagues to advance good solutions that will empower American families to achieve a better quality of life. We must work together toward policies that will lead to a healthy economy that offers greater opportunity for all Americans – especially those who feel left behind. And we should insist on a strong foreign policy that recognizes the need for American leadership in an increasingly dangerous world.”

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U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla., will offer the Tea Party Express’s response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday.

Tea Party Express Executive Director Taylor Budowich made the announcement on Thursday. Clawson was in the news earlier in the month for voting for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., instead of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to lead the chamber.

“2015 marks a year of new beginnings for the tea party movement,” Budowich said on Thursday. "With historic victories in both the House and Senate, conservatives are poised to push a bold, reform-minded agenda through Congress. These new tea party members of Congress are brimming with ideas to make America economically stronger with opportunity for all to realize the American dream. We are honored to present Florida Congressman Curt Clawson, the first Tea Party Express victory for the 2014 cycle, as someone committed to making Congress deliver for the American people.”

Budowich explained why his group chose Clawson to offer the response to Obama.

“Congressman Curt Clawson represents the face of this new, conservative vision for America’s economic renewal,” Budowich said. “Clawson never envisioned serving his country in Congress earlier in his life, but after he retired Clawson decided to take his private-sector, solutions-based ideas to change the debate on Capitol Hill. Prior to joining Congress in 2014, Congressman Clawson was a successful business leader that took over a multinational company that was $2 billion in debt. Through his vision and leadership, he turned the company around and saved close to 600 American jobs.

“Clawson, a former Purdue University basketball co-captain, understands the importance of teamwork and bringing people together to win,” Budowich added. “His response will highlight the importance of the Republican Party's efforts to branch out from the narrow walls of yesterday’s GOP. He will articulate an inclusive message that focuses on providing economic liberty and individual opportunity for every American. We are proud to be partnering with Congressman Clawson, and we are excited to hear his response to President Obama on Tuesday night.”

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At a media event in Miami on Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., called for $100 million to shore up charter schools, an increase from $75 million last year.

“Our ‘Keep Florida Working’ budget proposal provides Florida students with the resources they need to succeed in the classroom,” Scott said. “Florida students must be able to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. That’s why we are working to provide historic per-pupil funding for Florida students and invest in the schools where they learn. These investments will continue to ensure Florida students are prepared for college or a great career after they graduate.”

More than 250,000 Florida students attend the 643 charter schools in the Sunshine State.

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Constitutional Rights PAC (CRPAC) continued to ramp up its opposition to former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., running for president in 2016.

“Jeb Bush is not the conservative choice for 2016; in fact, he’s very far from it,” CRPAC Chairman Larry Ward said on Thursday. “Bush is a dyed-in-the-wool establishment Republican and advocate of big government. He supports amnesty, additional taxes, and wants D.C. bureaucrats dictating what's taught in public school classrooms across the country. These ideas are totally divorced from any kind of traditional conservatism – we’ve got to end Jeb 2016.

“If Jeb Bush is chosen to replace Barack Obama in the Oval Office – leaving the likelihood or unlikelihood of that scenario aside – we can be certain there would be no significant change in the way business is done in Washington,” Ward added. “If limited government is to be restored, and the Constitution preserved, Jeb Bush simply cannot be given access to the White House. Genuine conservatives know this.”

Ward slammed Bush for backing Common Core and accused him of benefiting from President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

“While crony-capitalism is nearly a fact of big-party politics, it’s totally incompatible with the supreme law of the land,” Ward said. “Our next president needs to put the Constitution first at all costs. Nothing has made this fact clearer than the Obama presidency."

Ward’s group has launched a website attacking Bush’s 2016 ambitions.

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the heavy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, is more worried about former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., than former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., on the Republican side.

The New York Daily News has a story on Thursday indicating that a top Clinton adviser thinks Bush has a better chance against the Democrat than Romney.

“One has to assume Bush will win Florida,” the adviser told the New York Daily News. “People will argue that Bush has matured. With Romney, there’s less of an argument that he matured than that he flipped in ’12 and that he’s flopping back in ’16."

"We will cream him,” someone close to Clinton told the Daily News about her chances against Romney.

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Conservative group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) unveiled its agenda on Thursday for the upcoming Florida legislative session. AFP’s agenda calls for ending the corporate income tax and pulling the plug on “special interest, business-specific tax subsidies and exemptions”; reforming Medicaid, public pensions and Citizens Property Insurance; more school choice; less government regulation and more government transparency.

“Politicians who hoped they heard the last from AFP activists for at least a year will have their hopes dashed today," said Chris Hudson, AFP’s Florida director on Thursday. "With the announcement of our aggressive state and federal legislative agenda we are back in their neighborhoods, talking to their constituents, and holding them accountable for how their votes increase or decrease economic freedom and limited government. We will be as busy as ever standing up for the taxpayers, workers, parents, and job creators against the special interests that want to spend more of their money and restrict their options to achieve a better quality of life."

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