Tampa Bay Times
Crist and Jolly
The weird Charlie Crist/David Jolly/Donald Trump dynamic persists even after the Democratic U.S. Rep. Crist unseated Republican Jolly in November. Jolly, an early and vocal crtitic of presidential candidate Trump whom Crist allies last year falsely portrayed as a Trump fan, appeared on MSNBC Monday night and gave a blistering critique of Trump's travel ban.
"If this is week one of the Trump Administration, it indicates that within the first year, we might find our President drifting toward an impeachable moment. At the very least, this is his J.V. moment," Jolly told Lawrence O'Donnell, after Trump's firing of acting attorney general.
Jolly is considering taking on Crist again in the overwhelmingly Democratic Pinellas County district. On MSNBC he called out both the left and right for failing to properly challenge Trump. Crist, he scoffed, posted a Facebook photo of him and his wife at the yacht club while many others were protesting Trump ban on travel from seven overwhelmingly Muslim countries. …Full Story
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bill Nelson announced this evening he will vote against Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.
"Two words: Vladimir Putin," the Florida Democrat said.
Nelson is taking a step that fellow Florida Sen. A Marco Rubio will not, despite leading the charge in questioning Tillerson's Russian ties.
Nelson also raised the issue of climate change.
Below is the text of his speech on the Senate floor:Full Story
Kristen M. Clark / Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, of Miami Gardens, speaks to reporters during the annual AP Florida Legislative Planning Session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee on Jan. 31, 2017.
With controversial gun legislation again proposed for Florida lawmakers to consider this spring, Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon told reporters Tuesday that the Legislature needs to do a better job of understanding the true reality of gun violence -- as opposed to referencing hypothetical, Hollywood-inspired examples.
And he speaks from experience.
RELATED: "These are the gun law changes Florida lawmakers could take up in 2017"
"My reality is a little different from their’s," the Miami Gardens Democrat said, referring to his fellow legislators. "How many people have been in a club that got shot up? I can raise my hand and say that I have."
Braynon recounted several examples from his youth in Miami-Dade where he witnessed shootings -- at two house parties on the same night, a movie theater showing of "Boyz n the Hood," at a club with friends -- or even as a student at Florida State University, when he said he had a gun pulled on him on a street-corner.
Braynon described the club incident, in particular, in vivid detail.
He and some friends were at a club on 119th Street in Miami-Dade when a fight broke out, Braynon recalled. …Full Story
Kristen M. Clark / Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
Florida Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam speaks to reporters during the annual AP Florida Legislative Planning Session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee on Jan. 31, 2017.
Although Republican Gov. Rick Scott has made jobs and business incentives a staple of his administration, a statewide official who might seek to replace him in next year’s election says Florida needs to do a better job of making sure its residents are actually qualified to fill in-demand jobs and be hired by the companies that move here.
“The talent pipeline is not in place,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told reporters Tuesday. “The worst of all worlds is for us to recruit contracts or recruit businesses to Florida and not be able to staff the pipeline to meet their talent needs.”
Putnam offered two examples of businesses that are struggling to hire locally in Florida because of the lackluster talent pool: an aircraft refurbishment facility in Lake City that needs to hire several hundred people and a shipbuilder in Panama City that has a contract to build a new U.S. Coast Guard patrol cutter. …Full Story
The Miami Herald reports:
Former state Sen. Dan Gelber will file his paperwork Tuesday to run for Miami Beach mayor, according to his political consultant.
Christian Ulvert said in a news release that Gelber will file Tuesday afternoon at City Hall. He will be joined by his family, which includes his father, former Beach mayor Seymour Gelber.
Gelber spent nearly a decade as a federal prosecutor and a decade in the Florida Legislature before running for Florida Attorney General in 2010. That year, he lost to Pam Bondi, the current Attorney General.
More hereFull Story
Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, speaks to reporters during the annual AP Florida Legislative Planning Session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee on Jan. 31, 2017.
Senate President Joe Negron told reporters Tuesday he isn't upset that Gov. Rick Scott's 2017-18 budget proposal doesn't include funding for Negron's top legislative priority: Purchasing land for water storage south of Lake Okeechobee.
"I don’t expect the governor to put the priorities of the House and Senate in his budget," Negron, R-Stuart, said. "I have the burden of proof to convince him and convince my colleagues that based on Amendment 1 and based on the current issue that it’s appropriate to spend money on additional water storage south of Lake Okeechobee."
Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, filed legislation last week to carry out Negron's $2.4 billion plan to buy 60,000 acres of farmland to create a water-storing reservoir and prevent future toxic algae outbreaks in local estuaries, such as those that wreaked havoc on the state last summer.
In reiterating his pitch for the land buy, Negron said "the best we've come up with" as a state hasn't worked and isn't good enough. …Full Story
WASHINGTON - President Trump will head to his Palm Beach estate on Friday for the weekend, Press Secretary Sean Spicer just announced.
The visit coincides with the International Red Cross Ball, being held at Mar-a-Lago Club on Saturday night. It is Trump's first visit since being sworn in as president. He spent two weeks there around Christmas.
>>> Greetings from Mar-a-Lago: Donald Trump's presidential paradise <<<Full Story
House Speaker Richard Corcoran sounded like a man in a hurry at Tuesday's annual AP legislative planning session in Tallahassee. The Land O'Lakes lawmaker began a 15-minute talk by noting that it was Day 71 of his two-year speakership, and with his two sessions in close proximity to each other, "It's 13 months from the end."
In a bit of creepy imagery that's not likely to endear him to Gov. Rick Scott, Corcoran said the House's discovery of spending problems at Enterprise Florida was like turning on a light in a darkened kitchen at 3 a.m.
"I don't mean this in a disparaging way to anybody, but there's cockroaches everywhere," he said. "Bonuses, severance packages, furniture, trips." He noted that even Scott told both EFI and Visit Florida "Clean up your act," and later told reporters there was no chance the House will approve Scott's requests for $85 million for job incentives and $76 million to promote tourism. …Full Story
Back January 2016, incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Jeb Bush supporter, made clear his contempt for then-Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
"What birthed the phenomenon of a candidate who in all definition of the word is running a quasi-repugnant campaign that is baseless? You have a candidate who has flip-flopped on every issue,'' the Land O'Lakes Republican told a Florida Chamber of Commerce gathering. .
"I ask people why are you supporting Donald Trump? You tell me whatever issue it is and I'll send you an issue of Donald Trump on the complete other side of that issue," Corcoran said at the time. "You have a guy who has offended every other possible group known to mankind. He's insulted and offended women, Mexicans, Jewish people, disabled people, people in Middle America. I don't know who he hasn't offended and somehow that's okay?"
Today, less than two weeks into the tumultuous presidency of Donald Trump, Corcoran sees things very differently: "I'd give him an A-plus," he said Tuesday, following his remarks to Associated Press members in Tallahassee. …Full Story
MONICA HERNDON | Times
House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa
House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa said Florida's budget woes are due to misplaced priorities and chided the minority party for not doing a better job convincing voters that they're fighting in their best economic interests.
"I don't think as Democrats we've done a good enough job at articulating how our core values have a direct impact on ensuring Florida families can continue to climb the economic ladder of success," Cruz told reporters Tuesday.
The comments follow an election cycle when Democrats were expected to perform much better than they did, particularly in the state Legislature, where they picked up one Senate seat and two in the House.
More funding for public education, better access to health care and a focus on clean water will help the state's economy grow, Cruz said, and help avoid budget shortfalls such as the projected one this year.
"Our state doesn't have a revenue problem or a spending problem," she said. "What we have is a problem in priorities." …Full Story
WASHINGTON - Sen. Marco Rubio joined Republicans in denouncing Democrats for boycotting the confirmation hearings of President Trump's picks to run the treasury and health and human services.
Democrats announced today they will not participate in Finance Committee hearings for Steve Mnuchin and Rep. Tom Price, asserting they have not been truthful about their background. Sen. Bill Nelson is a member of the committee and we're seeking his comments.
Following orders of leftwing extremists, @SenateDems boycotted vote on @POTUS nominees for Treasury & HHS. They will still be confirmed! MR
Nelson on the Senate floor alluded to the standoff. "There was new information that came to light overnight in the publication in The Wall Street Journal of additional information about the nominee for the department of HHS, which needs to be cleared up before the committee proceeds," he said. "So, I want to put that on the record and make clear what was one of the reasons that the finance committee members objected to proceeding."Full Story
A week after threatening Florida ports with retaliation if they do business with Cuba, Florida Gov. Rick Scott is using his proposed state budget to further make the point.
Buried on page 222 of his 363 page state budget is a line prohibiting money from a pot of $176 million for various port improvements from going to any facilities the does business with the communist nation.
In the budget, Scott’s administration says no money can go to “infrastructure projects that result in the expansion of trade with the Cuban dictatorship because of their continued human rights abuses.”Full Story
WASHINGTON - Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, fired last night by President Trump, was doing exactly what she said she would do, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said this morning on Fox Business Network.
“Her answer to Jeff Sessions was that she would make sure that the Department of Justice followed the law," Wasserman Schultz said, referring to Yates’ 2015 confirmation hearing.
“And frankly, because President Trump did absolutely nothing to consult the Department of Justice, his Secretary of Homeland Security, any members of Congress, the leadership of Congress, since they basically slapped this policy together in which they were barring immigrants and refugees for a period of time from countries, by the way, none of which had the 9/11 attackers come from.” …Full Story
Kristen M. Clark / Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
Gov. Rick Scott talks with reporters after unveiling his 2017-18 budget proposal during the annual AP Florida Legislative Planning Session at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee on Jan. 31, 2017.
To better recruit and retain quality teachers for Florida's K-12 public schools, Gov. Rick Scott wants the state to spend $58 million in the next budget year on a handful of initiatives -- and those don't include a controversial teacher bonus plan that lawmakers, with Scott's support, have advanced in recent years.
"Teachers are key to preparing our future generations for great careers," Scott said Tuesday when rolling out priorities of his 2017-18 budget proposal during a news conference in Tallahassee. "We have to make investments to recruit and retain the best educators in our classrooms."
Specifically, Scott proposes:
-- $15 million to eliminate initial and renewal certification fees for teachers;
-- $10 million for "a one-time hiring bonus for teachers testing in the top 10 percent of the Subject Area Examination in the subject they are teaching in the 2017-2018 school year";
-- $5 million to "increase the diversity of teachers in critical shortage and high-need areas";
-- $5.9 million to "recruit Bright Futures scholars that major in education and commit to 4 years of teaching following graduation in the rural districts from which they graduate high school"; …Full Story
[Special to the Times]
Rick Scott unveiled his proposed $83.5 billion budget today.
Gov. Rick Scott proposed a $83.5 billion state budget proposal on Tuesday that would cut $618 million in taxes mostly for businesses, boost education funding and would revive his cherished job incentive program the Legislature eviscerated last year.
Scott said decreasing taxes, even though mostly for businesses, helps all Floridians.
“When jobs are created, it helps the poorest, most disadvantaged families who need a job the most,” Scott said Tuesday.
But the tax cut plans and his quest revive the state’s program to give tax breaks to private businesses has already been cooly received by state lawmakers who say tough budget conditions will make both ideas difficult to agree to.
On education, Scott is proposing a 4 percent increase in combined state and local funding for schools. That would boost funding from $20.2 billion to almost $21 billion and increase per pupil funding from $7,204.58 to $7,420.99 if agreed to by the Legislature.
Most of that increase in spending would come from local property tax dollars, which would account for nearly $558 million of the extra dollars. …Full Story