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Politics

Will Weatherford, Don Gaetz Make the Grade in 'Americans for Prosperity' Report Card

June 24, 2013 - 6:00pm

The Florida chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which calls itself the nation's premier limited government grassroots organization, has published its annual report card grading the state's legislators, and the heads of both chambers have aced with flying colors.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and 51 other state representatives are designated Champions of Economic Freedom for scoring at least a 100 percent an A+ on the 2013 Economic Freedom Scorecard. Several legislators met, or even exceeded, that threshold by receiving what amounted to extra credit for sponsoring one or more of the 21 bills and amendments that AFP designated as its priorities.

This scorecard shows which legislators voted to keep Floridas tax and regulatory burdens low, encourage economic growth through free markets, and demand an efficient and accountable government," AFP-Florida state Director Slade OBrien commented in a press release announcing the report."It also shows a stark picture of those elected officials that aimed to increase taxes on hard-working taxpayers, increase government burdens on small businesses, and support cronyism through special interest loopholes.

Among the report's most notable scores:

-- Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is the only member of his chamber to score at or above 100 percent. Senate President Don Gaetz scored 92 percent, an A.

-- The highest scoring Democrat is freshman Rep. Katie Edwards of Plantation, who at 79 percent fell 1 point short of a B. Sen. Bill Montfort of Tallahassee is his chamber's highest scoring Democrat at 64 percent (D).

-- The House's lowest-scoring Republicans each earning a C are freshman Halsey Beshears of Monticello (77 percent), Ritch Workman of Melbourne (76 percent), Mike Fasano of New Port Richey (71 percent) and John Tobia of Melbourne Beach (70 percent).

-- Four Republican senators earned Cs: Kelli Stargel of Lakeland (74 percent), Alan Hays of Umatilla (73 percent), Garrett Richter of Naples (73 percent), and Wilton Simpson of New Port Richey (70 percent).

-- The Legislature's lowest-ranking Republicans are all senators: Charlie Dean of Inverness (65 percent, D), Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami (64 percent, D), Jack Latvala of Clearwater (62 percent, D), and Nancy Detert of Venice (45 percent, F).

Citizens need to have the tools to hold their elected officials accountable and the Economic Freedom Scorecard is one of those tools, OBrien said. Fifty-three members of the Legislature received A+ scores, but just as many received failing scores. Floridians need to know whether their elected officials are voting to protect their interest in Tallahassee or whether they are voting for special interest lobbyists.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at 954-235-9116.

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