The Florida Department of Transportation will have to repeat a meeting about a massive project on Interstate 4 because it violated state law by not allowing an audience member to record a meeting Tuesday, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The repeat performance will be June 5. Here is a link to the Sentinel story.
When Lakeland Republican Dennis Ross was in the state House, he was heavily involved in insurance issues. Now a member of Congress, Ross was named Wednesday to a spot on the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, according to The Hill.
Maybe it’s because the list of budget ‘turkeys’ put out by TaxWatch included a $14 million college construction project in his district. Or maybe it’s just general irritation with the organization’s questioning of the Legislature’s budget priorities. But Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, just issued a statement unloading on the annual report highlighting budget items that TaxWatch says didn’t go through the normal budget process and are ripe for a veto from Gov. Rick Scott.
Parts of the statement will be included in our story later today. But here’s the full statement:
“The TaxWatch list is built on the unconstitutional perversion that if an appropriation isn’t recommended by unelected agency officials it shouldn’t be considered in conference by elected legislators. This is an arrogance of the elite who spend too much time in Tallahassee and Washington listening to the echoes of their own invented wisdom and thinking they’re hearing the voice of God.
“No agency put in its budget a $3,500 raise for Florida’s most effective teachers, yet that was funded. No agency testified before the Legislature asking for a raise for state employees who had been without one for six years, yet we passed it. No bureaucrat in the Department of Education asked for a career-technical pathway to a high school diploma or an online pathway to a university degree, but we funded them. Not a whisper of criticism from TaxWatch on any of these and a hundred other similar items. So, apparently, their indignation is not only ill-informed but selective.
“TaxWatch has dismissed as ‘turkeys’ mobile medical and dental units to bring health care to poor people in rural areas, documentation and education about the Holocaust, housing for disabled veterans, rehabilitation for severely wounded soldiers who want to return to duty, and replacement of 50 year old educational facilities that produce workforce for companies bringing jobs to Florida. In most cases, those who put together this list couldn’t find these projects on a map and haven’t put five minutes into finding out anything about them.
“If our founders had shared the slavish devotion of Taxwatch to unchallenged decisions and dictates of faraway bureaucrats, we’d all be drinking English tea and singing God Save the Queen. A good song. But not an American song. The Constitution obligates and empowers elected legislators, who come from communities and go home to communities, to write the state’s budget. If TaxWatch staffers want to test their budget theories in the public square, let them stand up in front of conference committees and testify in public. More than thirty public, open conference committee meetings were held during the recent legislative session. Every item in the state budget was proposed and adopted during those public meetings. Testimony was requested and welcomed at every meeting. Not once did any person from TaxWatch ask one question, offer one idea or say one word.
“It is little wonder that TaxWatch is irrelevant 364 days a year.”
Pablo Pantoja made news recently by going from Republican Hispanic outreach director to Democrat. The GOP counters today that he was very recently seeking a job at the RNC. Pantoja responds: “In this career and livelihood many of us in this process seek to grow and network for other jobs usually within the same circles. I have even considered leaving the process to non-political jobs because of my evolution.”
Former state Rep. Frank Farkas, a St. Petersburg Republican who was unable to regain a seat in the Legislature last November, has scratched off a big payday for himself, the Florida Lottery announced Tuesday. Farkas, 56, took a one-time, lump-sum payment of $815,515.72, after winning a prize in part of the lottery’s “Lucky $200,000 A Year for Life” game. Farkas won in part of the game that offered a potential prize of $50,000 a year for life. Farkas, a chiropractic physician, served in the House from 1998 to 2006. He sought to return to office in 2012 but was defeated by Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, will look to keep a Panhandle Senate seat in family hands.
Gaetz filed paperwork Monday to run in 2016 in Senate District 1, the seat currently held by Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican and the representative’s father. The move, which was anticipated, sets up a potentially contentious primary with Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, who had already filed for the seat.
Observers have noticed that the relationship between the two lawmakers has been tense as the race draws nearer. Don Gaetz had suggested during year’s legislative redistricting process, which ended with his seat getting a four-year term in the 2012 elections rather than a two-year stint, that he hadn’t made up his mind whether to stay in the Senate after his presidency ends in late 2014, but he has given no signs lately that he intends to retire early.
Filing the paperwork, at least in part, allows the younger Gaetz to start raising money for the race.
This story appeared Monday on www.newsserviceflorida.com, your source for news about Florida legislative campaigns
Pablo Pantoja, who quit his job as Hispanic outreach director for the Florida Republican Party has switched his registration to Democrat. He explained why in a note that Kevin Cate put on his blog, here: http://thefloridanation.com/?p=555
Gov. Rick Scott continues his tour to draw attention to manufacturing tax break that will start next year, that the governor says will create jobs. He has three stops today:
-9 a.m., PortMiami, Terminal J, 1120 Caribbean Way, Miami.
-11:45 a.m., Parametric Solutions, 831 Jupiter Park Dr., Jupiter.
-2:30 p.m., Frito Lay, 2800 Silver Star Rd., Orlando.
The bill (HB 7007) – approved in the final days of the legislative session – was sent to his desk on Thursday and he has until May 24 to sign the document into law. The proposal eliminates a requirement that limits the current exemption on sales tax for manufacturing equipment to those who can show they’ve increased productive output by at least five percent. The bill also allows a manufacturer to receive a tax exemption for equipment upgrades at an existing facility. The change has been estimated to reduce sales tax collections by $141 million a year. Lawmakers made the tax break good for three years, and delayed its implementation until April 2014.
For complete legislative coverage: www.newsserviceflorida.com
Voters in House District 2 in the western Panhandle will vote in the closed Republican primary today. Voters are choosing a GOP candidate for the race to replace the late Rep. Clay Ford of Pensacola. The Republicans running in the GOP primary are former Gulf Breeze Mayor Ed Gray, Pensacola insurance agent Mike Hill, former Pensacola City Councilman Jack Nobles, insurance agent and developer David Radcliffe, insurance inspector Mark Taylor, and businessman Scott Miller.
There is no Democratic primary, because only one Democrat, Jeremy Lau, is running.
The general election is June 11.
As he kicks off a run for the state House, GOP Vice Chairman Blaise Ingoglia is paying off a tax debt brought up by the Tampa Bay Times. Ingoglia says it was an oversight.