Feb 5 2016

Gun-rights group targets DLP in letter to donors, Senate prez next

A coalition of Tea Party and conservative groups targeted Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla for blocking a pair of gun bills approved by the House this week, and now they’ve got Senate President Andy Gardiner in their sights.

The Florida Citizens’ Alliance sent letters to the Miami Republican’s donors accusing DLP of “breaking the public trust” and “violating his oath of office to protect and preserve our U.S. Constitution.”

Diaz de la Portilla said he’s seen the letter.

“All the calls I have received from recipients of the letter indicate that the ‘letter to donors’ will BACKFIRE on the sender,” he said in a text message Friday.

Keith Flaugh, one of the organization’s founders whose name appears on the letter, told The News Service that “hundreds” of letters were sent to DLP’s donors.

Flaugh said he and his supporters, who blame Gardiner for blocking the votes on the gun bills, will soon send a similar missive to the Senate president’s contributors.

Gardiner told reporters Tuesday that both the open-carry and campus-carry bills “are in trouble.”

Flaugh said that Florida Citizens’ Alliance has a database of 25,000 focused on Second Amendment issues. On its website, the organization describes itself as “a coalition of citizens and grassroots groups working together through education, outreach and community involvement to advance the ideals and principles of liberty.”

Diaz de la Portilla is drawing fire from the gun rights advocates for refusing to hear a proposal (HB 4001) that would allow the more than 1.4 million Floridians with concealed-weapons licenses to pack heat while on state college and university campuses. The measure would also allow lawmakers with concealed-carry licenses hang on to their guns during legislative meetings and on the House and Senate floor. State law prohibits people from carrying guns during legislative committee meetings.

Diaz de la Portilla may allow his committee to take up an open-carry measure next week. He recently said, however, that he’s open to considering amendments that could draw opposition from Second Amendment groups.

DLP donors

The News Service of Florida

Feb 3 2016

Grayson Gets Big-Name Backer

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson is getting a little of the Kennedy magic.

Environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Wednesday endorsed Grayson, a Central Florida congressman battling for the Democratic nomination to try to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“When Republicans in Congress tried to intimidate President Obama and Congressman Grayson into backing the Keystone Pipeline, Rep. Grayson never buckled, never blinked,” Kennedy said in a statement released by the Grayson campaign. “He’s always stood strong in the fight to adopt smart, clean energy and protect the environmental resources which are so vital to Floridians and that state’s economy. I’ve always admired Alan’s courage.”

The News Service of Florida

Feb 1 2016

Scott Gets Update on Zika Virus

Gov. Rick Scott this afternoon is scheduled to get a briefing from the federal Centers for Disease Control on the Zika virus.

A case of the mosquito-borne illness was confirmed last year in Brazil, and outbreaks are occurring in other countries, according to the CDC website. Scott will get a telephone briefing at 1:30 p.m., according to a schedule released by his office.

On a brighter note (unless you are a fan of the Gators or Hurricanes), Scott will take part in a Florida State University “Seminole Evening” reception at 5:30 p,.m. at the Capitol.

The News Service of Florida

Jan 28 2016

Scott to Meet with Columnist Will

Continuing to make the conservative rounds in Washington, D.C., Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled at 9 a.m. today to meet with columnist and commentator George Will, according to Scott’s schedule.

Earlier, Scott was slated to meet with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He also is slated to attend a health-care transparency event at noon at the American Enterprise Institute.

Scott then will head back to Tallahassee, where he will host an Enterprise Florida Board reception and then attend an Enterprise Florida board dinner.

The News Service of Florida

Jan 27 2016

Scott Huddles with McConnell

On the second day of a trip to Washington, D.C., Florida Gov. Rick Scott will meet at 11 a.m. with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to the governor’s schedule.

Scott also is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. interview on Fox News and will take part in a 4 p.m. roundtable discussion hosted by the Heritage Foundation and the National Review. He will wrap up the day with a 7 p.m. American Spectator dinner.

The News Service of Florida

Jan 26 2016

Scott Headed to Washington

As lawmakers continue grinding through bills — and as the Capitol press corps prepares for tonight’s annual skits — Gov. Rick Scott will head to Washington.

Scott is slated to attend an Americans for Tax Reform event at 4 p.m. and an Americans for Tax Reform dinner at 6 p.m., according to his schedule.

The News Service of Florida

Jan 25 2016

Ex-Gov. Martinez Joins Dems in Backing Dozier Bills

Former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez is expected to join Democratic lawmakers at a news conference Tuesday to support bills related to the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Jackson County.

University of South Florida researchers excavated the site and found bodies of children after allegations of abuse and deaths at the longtime reform school.

The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee and the House Government Operations Subcommittee are expected Tuesday to  consider proposals (SB 708 and HB 533), filed by Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa., that would direct the Florida Department of State to preserve historical resources from the site and would  provide money to help families reinter bodies of children.

Martinez is expected to appear at the Senate committee and to take part in an 11 am. news conference, according to a release from the Senate Democratic Office.

The News Service of Florida

Jan 24 2016

Gaetz Says New Forecast Cuts into Education Budget

Florida lawmakers got a dose of bad news Tuesday when economists reduced revenue projections by about $400 million.

And in a weekly newsletter, Senate Education Appropriations Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, indicated that the lower estimate will cause trims in educations spending.

” ‘Our means’ has been redefined downward this week,” Gaetz wrote in the newsletter Saturday. “The suggestion that our state would have well over a billion dollars in new revenue this year was dashed with cold water mid-week when the state’s chief economist steeply downgraded expected revenues. As Education Appropriations Chairman, I’ll be working with senators in the next few days to pare back spending requests and look for budget items that can be eliminated or cut significantly.”



The News Service of Florida

Jan 22 2016

Wealthy Businessman Fernandez Backs Jolly

Billionaire businessman Mike Fernandez, a major Republican political contributor, will back Congressman David Jolly in this year’s race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio, according to release Friday from Jolly’s campaign.

Fernandez, who is from Miami-Dade County and made much of his money in the health-care industry, said in a prepared statement that the country needs “more people who have the guts to shake things up in Washington.”

“In order to leave this country better than it is today, we must have the proven leaders who are courageous enough to lead this great country and to act upon their morals and principles,” Fernandez said. “I cannot think of a better proven leader with better morals and principles than David Jolly. He is a guy who is unafraid to speak his mind and call things like he sees it.”

The News Service of Florida

Jan 21 2016

Scott to Quickly Sign Water, Disabilities Bills

Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Thursday to sign a major water-policy bill (SB 552) and bills (SB 672 and HB 7003) aimed at providing more educational and job opportunities for people with disabilities.

Lawmakers last week quickly passed the bills, which have been priorities of House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.

The News Service of Florida