Sunshine State News Blogs

NextGen Climate has revitalized its campaign to defeat Gov. Rick Scott in November's election, unleashing a new ad attacking the governor for taking $200,000 from a Collier family, owners of a company that leased land for oil exploration near the Florida Everglades.

The ad accuses the Collier family of profiting on the oil drilling and then asks Scott to return the cash.

NextGen, a super-PAC backed by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, also followed another familiar line of attack in the ad, called "Again," bringing up Scott's pleading of the Fifth Amendment 75 times in a 1995 deposition. 

The environment has become a central issue in the gubernatorial race in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Scott launched his "Let's Keep Florida Beautiful" tour, pledging to funnel $1 billion in spending on Florida’s waters, with $500 million for alternative water supply and $500 million for springs restoration. Scott also met with climate scientists this week to discuss Florida's plan on climate change.

The ad will be running in the West Palm Beach and Fort Myers markets.  

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Despite the primary looming on Tuesday, a new poll shows Democrats remain largely undecided on who they want to challenge Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in November.

A poll from St. Pete Polls taken for Saint Petersblog finds 43.4 percent of voters remain undecided while 38.2 percent back former DCF Secretary George Sheldon and 18.4 percent support Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale. One good sign for Sheldon is he is beating Thurston by 25.6 percent among Democrats who have already voted.

The poll of 1,825 Democrats who already voted or are planning to was taken on Aug. 21 and had  a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.
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A new poll shows former Gov. Charlie Crist has a commanding lead over former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich in Tuesday’s Democratic primary to see who challenges Gov. Rick Scott in November.

St. Pete Polls took a poll for Saint Petersblog which shows Crist with 68.5 percent and Rich with 18.9 percent. Despite having been a Republican for most of his political career, Crist is in good shape with Democrats with 70.5 percent seeing him as favorable and 18.7 percent seeing him in an unfavorable light.

The poll of 1,825 Democrats who already voted or are planning to was taken on Aug. 21 and had  a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.
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With federal Judge Robert Hinkle striking down the state constitutional amendment on Thursday, recognizing only traditional marriage in Florida, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement on the decision. The amendment was added in 2008 after 62 percent of voters approved it at the ballot box.

The statement is as follows:

We are sadly disappointed by the court’s decision to reject marriage as the union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife. The decision fails to adequately consider that marriage unites a man and a woman with any children born from their union and protects a child’s right to both a mother and a father.

Our affirmation of marriage between a man and a woman is not motivated by unjust discrimination or animosity toward anyone. Human dignity is manifested in all persons; and all have the capacity for and are deserving of love. This is especially true of children, who should be given the opportunity, to the greatest extent possible, to be raised and loved by the mother and father who conceived them.

Only the union of a man and a woman in and of itself can bring forth children and thus is the very origin of society. With its unique beauty and goodness revealed, the public has a worthy interest in protecting this institution in law as a means to ensure humanity is both nurtured and strengthened.

The judge’s ruling negates marriage as identified in our state Constitution and approved by nearly 62 percent of the electorate in a 2008 ballot initiative. Despite this decision, we will continue to promote the truth of marriage, its foundational significance to society, and its importance to children. We are hopeful that ultimately the courts will recognize the true nature and meaning of marriage.
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A federal judge has joined with other statewide judges in ruling Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, in Tallahassee, ruled the 2008 voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. 

But despite the decision, Hinkle issued a stay delaying the effect of the order, which means gays will still have to wait for further court decisions before being issued marriage licenses. 

Hinkle said he believes the rationale to ban same-sex marriage will be seen as discriminatory further down the road. 

“When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination,” Hinkle wrote. “Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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In the final days of the primary, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw,  R-Fla., announced on Thursday that two congressmen from neighboring districts endorsed him over Republican primary challenger former Navy Capt. Ryamn Shoaf. Even worse for Shoaf, one of those congressmen used to be his boss.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., endorsed Crenshaw on Thursday. Shoaf had served on Yoho’s congressional staff.

"I’ve spent the past 15 months investigating the IRS and Americans have demanded that Congress do something to hold the IRS accountable for its misconduct,” DeSantis said. “Ander Crenshaw has answered the people’s call. Using his subcommittee chairmanship on the Appropriations Committee, Ander authored a bill to rein in the IRS, protect taxpayers and safeguard the Constitution. This is a critical bill that attracted widespread conservative support. I am proud of every day I serve with and stand with Ander Crenshaw”

Yoho stressed that Crenshaw was a fellow conservative.
“Ander Crenshaw is a conservative with a capital C,” Yoho said. “Even more, he’s a proven conservative who gets results for his Northeast Florida neighbors. He doesn’t chase headlines – he simply does the job he’s been elected to do. No one works harder, and no one’s done more, to advance our responsible agenda for America. Ander’s one of us – he fights for us!”

"I'm proud to stand together with Congressmen DeSantis and Yoho in a continued mission to protect the conservative values that individuals, families, and businesses hold dear,” Crenshaw said. “Across the board, Northeast Florida is well-served by both of them, and I look forward to working with them in the years ahead."

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Facing a crowded Republican primary to see who will challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo unleashed a new Web video on Thursday featuring one of his prominent supporters: former Gov. Jeb Bush.

"Carlos Curbelo represents a new generation of conservative leaders who are eager to serve their country and advance important reforms for our nation,” Bush says in the ad.

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U.S. Rep Steve Southerland, R-Fla., faces a tough challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham, D-Fla., in November and he is going all out to tie her to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.

In Panama City on Wednesday, Southerland announced the support of the Bays Medical Society and Florida Medical Association before turning his fire on Graham.

“I’m honored to have the support of the hard-working doctors, nurses, and health care professionals who help keep our communities healthy,” said Southerland. “Doctors take an oath to ‘first, do no harm,’ and they know better than anyone how harmful government-run health care has been for local families. Unfortunately, that message hasn’t gotten through to Gwen Graham, who continues to shift between supporting Obamacare and running from the question. When you’re more interested in currying favor with Nancy Pelosi than you are in listening to our doctors and patients, you’re writing North and Northwest Florida a prescription for disaster.”
“Steve is the only candidate in this race who opposes Obamacare,” said Dr. Jon Ward, the past president of the Bays Medical Society and currently on the board of governors for the Florida Medical Association. “Steve supports letting patients choose the health care plans and their physicians, and has fought for adequate Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals so our seniors can get the care they deserve. Gwen Graham, on the other hand, has stuck to the Nancy Pelosi playbook, dodging questions and refusing to fight government control of health care. As doctors, we know we can’t trust Gwen Graham to put the needs of our patients first, and that’s why we’re proud to endorse Steve Southerland for Congress.”
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Florida TaxWatch noted on Thursday that the Legislature will have almost $30 billion in general revenue for next year’s budget.

"Florida is now in the middle of its largest ever state budget, which is expected to grow even larger next year," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "Florida is experiencing steady recovery and growth and our revenues have finally recovered from the recession."

Florida TaxWatch expected general revenue to grow between 4-5 percent over the next three years. Despite this, Kurt Wenner, the vp for tax research of Florida TaxWatch, said legislators had tough choices facing them when they convene in the spring.
"While state revenue continues to grow, the next budget may be a little tighter than expected," said Wenner. "If legislators want to keep the same level of reserves there are now, there will be only $43 million more GR available than was spent this year, which will likely result in increased competition to fund social programs, provide tax cuts, and increase investment in core government services, such as education and health care."

More can be read here.
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Gov. Rick Scott announced plans on Thursday to raise education spending to more than $19.6 billion, increasing per-pupil spending to $7,176, which is $232 per student more than last year.

The previous record high was $7,126 from 2007-08.

“I am proud to announce that in the upcoming legislative session we will propose an increase in Florida’s per-pupil spending to the highest level in our state’s history,” Scott said. “We already have the highest total spending in K-12 this year and gave every teacher the opportunity for a pay raise. Because we were able to get Florida’s economy back on track, revenues are now projected to stay at a strong enough rate to support historic investments in education.”

Scott insisted that Florida’s revived economy allowed him to increase education spending.

“Florida job growth, and the overall growth of Florida’s economy has made it possible for us to invest record amounts in education,” said Scott. “The credit for our historic investment in education goes to the hard-working people of Florida who make it all possible.”
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Looking to expand the GOP’s majority in the U.S. House, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) hoped to trip up two Florida Democrats by attacking them on ethics.

The NRCC launched a new website on Wednesday called “Drain the Swamp” which focuses on Democrats who have faced accusations regarding ethics. The name comes from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s, D-Calif., promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.

“Pelosi’s swamp is overflowing with unethical candidates,” said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Wednesday. “Nancy Pelosi and Democrats are so desperate to regain complete liberal control of Washington, they are backing candidates who have more dirty laundry than the 'Real Housewives.'”

The new site hits Pelosi and 13 other Democrats in Congress including two members of the Florida delegation: U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Garcia is ranked as one of the top Republican targets in November.

“Rep. Joe Garcia continues to be an embarrassment for Florida families as two of his longtime staffers were forced to resign after allegations of absentee voter fraud,” the NRCC noted on the site. “That’s right, Joe Garcia’s ex-chief of staff and ex-communications director allegedly plotted to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee ballot requests for the 2012 primary.

“Rep. Alan Grayson abused his franked mailing privileges and used taxpayer money to distribute a self-promotional DVD to his constituents,” the NRCC insisted about the Central Florida congressman. “Now, taxpayers will have to pick up the $73,000 tab and be forced to watch Grayson vote in favor of Nancy Pelosi’s toxic liberal agenda. Additionally, Grayson released a fundraising email with a photo of a burning cross and claimed the tea party is ‘no more popular than the Klan.’”

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The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce launched a federal PAC -- the Jacksonville Chamber Committee for Good Government -- and endorsed two longtime representatives: Republican Ander Crenshaw and Democrat Corrine Brown.  

“As the Jacksonville Chamber gets more involved in policy issues – most notably the economic development project to deepen the St. Johns River to 47 feet – it made sense to be more involved at the federal level," said retiring state Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, the president and CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber.

“It was critical to rally local business leaders and elected officials in the efforts to get the harbor deepening project approved, but we know it could not happen without our congressional delegation,” Davis added. “Congressman Crenshaw and Congresswoman Brown are excellent partners in Washington, fighting to improve our local economy, and we wanted to show our support for their hard work.”

Crenshaw faces a primary challenge from retired Navy Capt. Ryman Shoaf next week. Brown is a heavy favorite over whichever Republican emerges from the primary next week.
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U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, came out swinging at the Obama administration on Tuesday for giving three Cubans with close ties to the Castro regime -- Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro, Josefina Vidal  and Antonio Castro, the son of Fidel Castro -- visas to enter the United States. Ros-Lehtinen wrote to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the matter.

“I’ve written to Secretary Kerry to express my opposition and concern over the State Department’s recent decision to grant these three high-ranking Castro regime officials entry to the United States,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Tuesday. “This is a misguided decision that gives the appearance of normalcy in relations with this murderous regime and sends the wrong message to the 11 million Cuban people suffering under its oppressive rule. It is an affront to the principles of freedom and democracy, and I would urge the administration to reverse its decision and instead push for greater reforms on the island.”
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From his seat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., denounced the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after reports emerged that members of that terrorist group beheaded journalist James Foley.

“The brutal execution of American journalist James Foley by ISIL is the latest example of the evil and barbarism of these terrorists. My thoughts and prayers are with the Foley family and with other Western hostages who at this hour are still being held,” Rubio said. “Just as al-Qaida’s initial killings of Americans abroad foretold the carnage they would unleash within our borders, this barbaric beheading of a defenseless hostage is the clearest indication to date that ISIL has declared war on the United States, on the American people, and on freedom-loving people everywhere.”

Rubio continued to hit ISIL for its actions and saying there is no point in bringing them to the negotiating table.  

“For more than a year, ISIL has been murdering civilians, raping women and young girls and enslaving them, and carrying out a systematic genocide of anyone who does not share their warped and extremist Islamist views,” Rubio said. “ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.”

Rubio, whose name has generated some buzz as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of ISIL.

“I remain deeply concerned that despite the preponderance of evidence that proves ISIL is a fundamentally evil and dangerous terrorist threat to the United States, President Obama continues to appear unwilling to do what is necessary to confront ISIL and communicate clearly to the American people about the threat ISIL poses to our country and to our way of life,” Rubio said. “ISIL is not a problem for only Iraqis or Syrians to solve. A piecemeal approach will not eliminate the growing threat to the United States and our allies. If we do not do more to assist our Iraqi partners and those moderate Syrians who are fighting ISIL and directly target ISIL’s leadership and networks in Iraq and Syria, I fear that James Foley will not be the only American to die at their hands.”
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Teachers are losing faith in the Common Core State Standards, a set of educational standards being implemented nationwide. 

According to a poll released Wednesday from Education Next, 40 percent of teachers surveyed said they opposed the standards, a number which has more than tripled from the 12 percent who said they opposed Common Core in 2013. 

Just last year, Common Core enjoyed a majority support from teachers, with 76 percent behind it. That number has plummeted, however, with less than half -- 46 percent -- of teachers saying they now support the standards.

In 2013, teachers were much more on board with the standards and were generally more positive in their views of Common Core than the public (76 percent compared to 65 percent), but today teachers are less positive on the standards (46 percent compared to 53 percent).

Last year, only 12 percent of the teaching force expressed opposition to the standards -- virtually the same percentage as the public. Today, teacher opposition is nearly twice as high as opposition among the public, with 40 percent opposing compared to 26 percent of the public who say they oppose the standards.

The Education Next poll was based on feedback from more than 5,000 respondents in May and June and conducted by Knowledge Networks.

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Let’s Get to Work, a group with ties to Gov. Rick Scott, released a radio ad in Creole on Wednesday as they look to rally Haitian voters in South Florida. The ad focuses on Scott’s economic and education records.

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“Faced with numerous challenges upon entering office, Rick Scott made a promise to Florida voters to bring Florida’s economy back,” said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), on Wednesday. “And in less than four years, Gov. Scott has kept that promise. Florida’s created over 600,000 new jobs, while Gov. Scott has cut taxes 40 times, increased education funding, and kept tuition low for Florida students. It’s clear that it’s working under Rick Scott, and we can’t afford to go back.”
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Dan Wahby, the director of government affairs for Lilly USA was named to the board of directors of GOPAC on Wednesday. Wahby is based out of Ponte Vedra on the First Coast. Also named to GOPAC’s board on Wednesday was Jabo Covert, the senior vice president of government affairs for Jones Management.
“We are delighted that Dan and Jabo are joining GOPAC’s board of directors,” said Frank Donatelli, the chairman of GOPAC. “Their experience and expertise will be valuable assets as we continue advancing our mission to educate and elect a new generation of Republican leaders.”
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Conservative group Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC) announced on Wednesday that former Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer will be speaking at their annual award dinner in Orlando on Oct. 11.

While best known for his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, Bauer also served in the Reagan administration, working on domestic issues and rising to serve as deputy undersecretary of education. Bauer also led the Family Research Council (FRC) and has stayed active with American Values and the Campaign for Working Families, one of the leading social conservative PACs at the national level. Serving on the board of Christians United for Israel, Bauer has been a vigorous supporter of that nation during the recent crisis in the Middle East.

In recent days, Bauer has weighed in on the 2016 presidential contest, warning Republicans they cannot take evangelical voters and religious conservatives for granted. While the Campaign for Working Families has made endorsements around the nation in the 2014 election cycle, so far Bauer’s group has not backed any candidates in Florida.
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Florida TaxWatch released “How Florida Compares -- Education" looking at how education in the Sunshine State does against the other states. The report finds Florida is third in the nation for K-0 enrollment and has the second best value for in-state tuition at state universities and colleges.

"It is imperative to understand how our school systems are matching up to those around the country in order to best meet the needs of Florida students," said Bob Nave, the director of Florida TaxWatch’s Center for Educational Performance and Accountability. "Florida students must remain competitive with their peers both nationally and globally, and understanding where we rank will help policymakers and education leaders fine tune our public schools to produce the best outcomes for Florida students."

"This year, Florida lawmakers spent nearly $22.5 billion to fund education programs for Florida students, which illustrates a commitment to raising achievement in our state's classrooms," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.
The report can be read here.
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Gov. Rick Scott slightly expanded his lead over former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite to win next week’s Democratic primary, in the latest WFLA poll taken by Survey USA.

The poll, which was released on Tuesday, finds Scott ahead with 44 percent followed by Crist with 41 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 4 percent.

For two weeks, the WFLA poll showed Scott leading by 2 percent.

The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.

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Familiar Tallahassee figure Michael Hightower, Florida Blue’s vice president of government and legislative relations, is retiring on Friday. Hightower, who has chaired both the Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, will leave Florida Blue on Friday.

“For more than 30 years, Mike Hightower has been the government relations face of our company, working on behalf of the organization and our stakeholders with virtually every facet of local and state government,” said Jason Altmire, the senior vice president of public policy and community engagement for Florida Blue, on Tuesday. “We deeply appreciate his many years of service and wish him the best in his retirement.”
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The Florida Democratic Party is going after Gov. Rick Scott for "breaking the law" in its latest ad, which was published to the party's YouTube channel Monday.

The ad, titled "Important," features footage from Scott's 1995 deposition regarding the HCA/Columbia Medicare fraud case. Scott is mostly quiet in the ad, which flashes various newspaper headlines regarding the secrecy of Scott's email accounts.

“Floridians know that Rick Scott has spent his entire career in the shadows, refusing to answer questions, take responsibility, or play by the rules,” according to FDP Chair Allison Tant. “Now we’ve learned that Rick Scott was using private emails to conduct state business out of the sunshine. While these revelations are certainly not surprising, it perfectly underscores exactly why Floridians cannot trust Rick Scott with another four years.”

View the ad below:




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The State Board of Administration (SBA) of Florida announced on Tuesday that investments in the Florida Retirement System (FRS) Pension Plan increased 17.4 percent during the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014. The SBA had been targeting an increase of 17 percent.

On June 30, the FRS contained investments totaling $149.1 billion in market value, an increase of $16.7 billion from a year before.

Ash Williams, the SBA’s executive director and chief investment officer, said the gains were the result of “prudence, patience, and diversification.”

“While recovery of the financial markets continues and we are certainly pleased with our current performance, we can’t lose sight of the fact that it is the long-term performance that matters most,” Williams said on Tuesday. “The 20- and 25-year periods have generated returns of 8.83 percent and 9.02 percent respectively.”
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Gov. Rick Scott's latest campaign ad is playing up the governor's commitment to veterans and his own military service in the Navy.

In the ad, several veterans express their support for the governor and some of his policies, like offering in-state tuition for incoming veterans. One veteran explains Scott understands veterans' needs due to his own experience in the military.

"As a veteran, Rick Scott understands what it means to be a part of something greater than himself, and works every day to honor that same commitment among Florida’s military personnel and veterans," said Lt.Col. Chris Hart, U.S. Army (Ret.) and state co-chair of Veterans for Scott Coalition. "Gov. Scott stands with all those who have served our country and will continue to thank them for their service and sacrifice." 

View the ad below:

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On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet issued a resolution indicating Florida’s support for Israel during the current crisis in the Middle East. The resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Israel remains a force of freedom and democracy in the Middle East; and

WHEREAS, Florida continues to foster a strong relationship with Israel and is home to one of the largest Jewish populations outside of Israel; and

WHEREAS, Israel is a steadfast ally of the United States; and

WHEREAS, Hamas is a United States-designated terrorist organization whose charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel; and

WHEREAS, Hamas continues to reject the Quartet Principles, the set of three requirements laid out by the diplomatic entity composed of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and the United States, which are to accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, to renounce violence, and to recognize Israel's right to exist; and

WHEREAS, innocent civilians are indiscriminately targeted by Hamas rocket attacks, and Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis and dozens of Americans in rocket attacks and suicide bombings; and

WHEREAS, since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas  and other terrorist groups have fired thousands of rockets at Israel, and since June 2014, Hamas has fired approximately 3,000 rockets at Israel; and

WHEREAS, millions of Israelis are currently living under the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza.

WHEREAS, Iran has long provided material support to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including assistance that has enabled these terrorist organizations to produce longer-range rockets capable of striking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; and

WHEREAS, the killing of Rabbi Joseph Raksin in North-East Miami-Dade has put Floridians on high alert that there is a potential for violence against the Jewish people in Florida; and

WHEREAS, Florida partners with Israel to create opportunities for families through the establishment of the Enterprise Florida Tel Aviv office; and

WHEREAS, Florida works to protect families in Israel through the “Iran-Free Bonds” policy that was adopted by the Governor and Cabinet in 2013 requiring the State Board of Administration to scrutinize and divest public dollars from entities that conduct business with Iran; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT resolved that the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida, do hereby declare that the State of Florida stands with


and supports Israel’s right to defend and protect its citizens from the forces of tyranny and oppression to ensure the survival of the State of Israel.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida vehemently condemn the unprovoked rocket attacks aimed at Israel and call on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida have hereunto subscribed their names and have caused the Official Seal of the State of Florida to be hereunto affixed in the City of Tallahassee this 19th day of August, 2014.
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The environment has been a hot topic from both candidates during the 2014 gubernatorial race -- and officials from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have weighed in to support Gov. Rick Scott for his "Let's Keep Florida Beautiful" environmental plan.

In recent weeks, Scott has honed in on his plan to push environmental protection across the state and has pledged to increase the state's spending on the environment if he is re-elected this year. 

"During Scott's first term he has provided record funding to protect Florida's springs, brought divergent groups together to move Everglades restoration forward, and funded key projects to protect the coral reefs of the Florida Keys," said Ron Bergeron, a member of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who also served on former Gov. Charlie Crist's 2006 Gubernatorial Campaign’s Environmental Policy Council. "Gov. Scott's ‘Let's Keep Florida Beautiful’ plan is yet another step in his leadership on environmental issues and should give hope that our natural resources will be protected for generations to come."

Others took swipes at Crist, who has harshly criticized Scott over environmental issues and called his administration "incompetent" earlier this month.

"To save an ecosystem, you need a plan," said Michael Collins, former member of Crist 2006 Gubernatorial Campaign’s Environmental Policy Council and former member of the South Florida Water Management District. "When Charlie Crist took office, there was a science-based, fully funded, comprehensive Everglades restoration plan in place. After four years of Charlie's impulse buying and environmental attention deficit disorder, it lay in ruins."

Collins said Scott would be a better option for the future of the Everglades.

"Rick Scott, in pushing forward with restoration strategies, has taken a giant step toward solving the water quality portion of the puzzle and has committed to using the same, science-based, fiscally sound approach to the rest of the problem," he said. "The Everglades won't survive another attack of Charlie Crist environmental populism."
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A poll released by Rasmussen Reports on Tuesday leaves little room for doubt that Americans view clinical depression as a major burden for those diagnosed with it.

The poll, which was taken after actor Robin Williams committed suicide, shows 87 percent of American adults believe clinical depression is a serious problem and 52 percent of the total surveyed see it as a very serious problem. Only 6 percent of those surveyed see clinical depression as not very serious or not at all serious. Almost half of those surveyed -- 47 percent -- say someone in their family deals with clinical depression.

The poll of 1,000 adults was taken from Aug. 13-14 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
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Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian candidate challenging Gov. Rick Scott, announced on Tuesday that he had been invited to a debate being held by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association at Broward College on Oct. 15.

“We are pleased that Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association has extended this invitation to us, and have acknowledged that there is a viable third option in this race,” said Wyllie. “I gladly accept their invitation without preconditions.”

Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite to win the Democratic primary next week, also accepted invitations to appear in the debate. 

“I intend to give straight answers to questions and offer Floridians real solutions,” Wyllie added.  “I just hope that Rick and Charlie can stop slinging mud for an hour or so, and discuss the important issues.”
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Gov. Rick Scott said on Tuesday that tourism was continuing to set records across the Sunshine State. According to Visit Florida, 24 million tourists visited Florida in the second quarter of 2014, a 3 percent increase from last year and a record high.

Tourism jobs are also growing with more than 1.15 million Floridians employed in the industry, an increase of 43,600 from the same period last year.

“A thriving tourism industry is vital to growing jobs, and today’s report that Florida has experienced another record quarter for visitation is great news for Florida families,” Scott said on Tuesday. “This year we invested $74 million into Visit Florida, and set a goal to have 100 million visitors visit the Sunshine State, which we are well on our way to reaching. Together we are creating an opportunity economy, and continuing to grow more jobs for Floridians with more than 1.1 million individuals employed in the growing tourism industry.”

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From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., issued a warning on Monday on the rise of Islamist terrorism in northern Iraq. In an op-ed over at National Review published Monday, Rubio supported President Barack Obama’s efforts to provide humanitarian relief in the region and backed airstrikes:

All over the world, millions of innocent people are facing persecution, imprisonment, and even death because of their religious beliefs.

In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory, according to the State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. And the trend in 2014 is only getting worse.

But perhaps nowhere has intolerance, ruthlessness, and evil combined to destroy people of faith more than it has in Iraq, where the Islamic State is engaged in a systemic effort to wipe out the Christian presence there, along with all other religious minorities.

The Islamic State, an extreme Sunni militant group that emerged from al-Qaida, has rampaged across Iraq, ridding towns of Christians and other religious minorities, just as it did in parts of Syria over the last year, persecuting that country’s Christians. It has used brutal tactics such as beheadings, rapes, forced conversions, and forced marriages of any non-Sunnis in its path.

The United States intervened militarily to assist 40,000 Iraqi Yazidis -- a religion that fuses Christianity, Islam, and ancient Zoroastrianism -- who were literally stuck on a mountaintop. Until U.S. and Kurdish military operations helped clear a path to safety, their options were to stay and die of thirst, or relocate and be massacred by the Islamic State militants waiting at the base of the mountain.

The U.S. government took the correct action in halting the genocidal campaign of the Islamic State by using our military to perform limited air strikes against their positions that were threatening Mount Sinjar and by conducting humanitarian airdrops to the Yazidis who were facing death from lack of water. Although the Obama administration has indicated that the mission has been accomplished on Mount Sinjar, there are reports that thousands of Yazidis still remain in peril on the mountain, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who need humanitarian assistance in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
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