Posts Tagged ‘Legislature’

Florida First Lady’s loan to accountant for governor’s blind trust may have broken state law

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

By Dan Christensen
Gov. Rick Scott’s wife may have broken Florida law by loaning more than $100,000 to an accountant who works for the investment firm that manages the governor’s $215-million blind trust.
The post Florida First Lady’s loan to accountant for governor’s blind trust may have broken state law appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Businessman accused of child molestation sues alleging defamation, smear campaign

Monday, March 19th, 2018

By Francisco Alvarado
A South Miami-Dade couple launched a smear campaign with the assistance of mega-lobbyist Ron Book to destroy the reputation of a prominent businessman accused by their six-year-old daughter of molesting her at a pool party, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
The post Businessman accused of child molestation sues alleging defamation, smear campaign appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Scott vs. Nelson for Senate? If so, governor will have a lot more disclosing to do

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

By Dan Christensen
For two terms, Florida’s feeble blind trust law has let Gov. Rick Scott stash his tens of millions of dollars in stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and oil and gas partnerships mostly out of sight and in friendly hands.
The post Scott vs. Nelson for Senate? If so, governor will have a lot more disclosing to do appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Lauren’s Kids funnels $3.1 million to politically connected public relations firm

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
A nonprofit run by Broward State Sen. Lauren Book and lavished with millions of dollars in state handouts by lawmakers paid a Tallahassee public relations firm with considerable political clout $3.1 million between 2012 and 2015.
The post Lauren’s Kids funnels $3.1 million to politically connected public relations firm appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Using ethics loophole, Sen. Lauren Book votes to give her nonprofit $1.5 million

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
Broward State Sen. Lauren Book voted “yes” last month to approve a state appropriations bill that included $1.5 million for Lauren’s Kids, the nonprofit she founded and leads as its $135,000-a-year chief executive officer.
The post Using ethics loophole, Sen. Lauren Book votes to give her nonprofit $1.5 million appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Lauren’s Kids racks up six-figure donations via auto tag registration renewals

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
In January, Broward County car owners who received their auto tag renewal notices also got a special message and sales pitch from Lauren’s Kids, the nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing child sex abuse and founded by freshman State Sen. Lauren Book.
The post Lauren’s Kids racks up six-figure donations via auto tag registration renewals appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Ms. Book goes to Tallahassee, sees no conflict voting $ for Lauren’s Kids or dad’s clients

Monday, March 20th, 2017

By Francisco Alvarado
Freshman Broward State Sen. Lauren Book says she won’t abstain from voting on matters involving clients of her father, powerful lobbyist Ron Book. Similarly, she sees no conflict of interest in voting on measures to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars to benefit her non-profit charity and political launching pad, Lauren’s Kids.
The post Ms. Book goes to Tallahassee, sees no conflict voting $ for Lauren’s Kids or dad’s clients appeared first on Florida Bulldog.

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Winners and losers in Donald Trump’s first budget plan

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Military spending would get the biggest boost in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. Environmental programs, medical research, Amtrak and an array of international and cultural programs — from Africa to Appalachia — would take big hits, among the many parts of the government he’d put on a crash diet.
The budget proposal out Thursday is a White House wish list; it’ll be up to Congress to decide where money goes. If Trump gets his way, there will be more losers than winners among government departments and programs.
Some programs would tread water: WIC grants — money to states for health care and nutrition for low-income women, infants and children — are one example. Monday for states grants for water infrastructure projects would be held level as well.
Some others would lose everything: Trump proposes to eliminate money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the national endowments for the arts and the humanities and more than a dozen other independent agencies financed by the government.
A sampling:
—The Pentagon. Trump proposes a 10 percent increase in the massive defense budget, adding $52 billion in military spending in one year top expand personnel, equipment and capability. Another $2 billion would go to nuclear weapons.
—Veterans Affairs. Up 5.9 percent. That’s an additional $4.4 billion, driven by ever-growing health care costs.
—Homeland Security. Up 6.8 percent. That’s $2.8 billion more. Most of the increase, $2.6 billion, would be to help kick-start Trump’s promised border wall. The president has repeatedly said Mexico would pay for the wall; Mexican officials are adamant that they won’t. Trump also wants an extra $1.5 billion for more immigration jails and deportations, and $314 million to hire 1,500 immigration enforcement and border patrol agents.
—The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the maintenance and safety of the nuclear arsenal and its research labs. The agency would grow

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House GOP health bill facing fresh House committee test

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

The White House and Republican leaders are talking to rank-and-file lawmakers about revising the GOP health care overhaul, hoping to keep a rebellion by conservatives and moderates from snowballing and imperiling the party’s showpiece legislation.
Four days after a congressional report projected the bill would pry coverage from millions of voters, signs of fraying GOP support for the legislation were showing. The measure would strike down much of former President Barack Obama‘s 2010 overhaul and reduce the federal role, including financing, for health care consumers and is opposed uniformly by Democrats.
In a fresh test of Republicans’ willingness to embrace the legislation, the House Budget Committee was considering the measure Thursday. Republicans expressed confidence the bill would be approved, but the vote could be tight. The panel can’t make significant changes but was expected to endorse non-binding, suggested changes to nail down votes.
The bill would eliminate the tax penalty that pressures people to buy coverage and the federal subsidies that let millions afford it, replacing them with tax credits that are bigger for older people. It would cut Medicaid, repeal the law’s tax increases on higher earning Americans and require 30 percent higher premiums for consumers who let coverage lapse.
Overt GOP opposition grew after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected Monday that the legislation would push 24 million Americans off coverage in a decade and shift out-of-pocket costs toward lower income, older people. Obama’s law has provided coverage to around 20 million additional people
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Wednesday that leaders could now make “some necessary improvements and refinements” to the legislation. But he declined to commit to bringing the measure to the House floor next week, a schedule Republican leaders have repeatedly said they intended to keep.
At a late rally in Nashville Wednesday, President Donald Trump said: “We’re going

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Economic development incentives drive jobs to Florida, boost state economy

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Shaping up to be one of the biggest battles in the Legislature in many years, the fight on economic development incentives and tourism funding has been swirling throughout the halls of the Capitol the last few weeks. On one side are those who believe that taxpayer dollars should not be used to entice businesses and tourists to Florida; the other side sees these programs as crucial for creating jobs and boosting our economy.
Having watched and safeguarded taxpayer dollars being spent and invested for nearly than 40 years, I am convinced by overwhelming evidence that these programs are essential components in the toolkit to grow the Sunshine State, but equally assured that proper oversight is as vital as the programs themselves.
Florida TaxWatch independent research – as well as analysis by the state’s economists – has shown that Florida’s economic development incentives that are targeted to specific industries and investments have generated positive return on investment by enticing qualifying businesses to bring high-wage jobs to the state and diversifying the state’s industry portfolio. These results boost the state economy, creating a rising tide and lifting up all boats in the process.
Our state’s economy continues to flourish with non-farm employment hitting a high of 8.4 million jobs and the unemployment rate averaging 4.8 percent throughout 2016. While many jobs are not directly created with incentives, we would not see the same level of success if we hadn’t implemented these programs. If Florida wants to continue to compete with the nation, it must have smart incentive programs that attract and expand high-wage jobs and entice companies that otherwise may not come to Florida.
Since all of our competitor states, as well as nearly every other state in the Union, use incentives, it would be a major detriment to Florida if we eliminated our economic development

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Tim Kaine says he’s not going to run for president in 2020

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says he’ll seek re-election in 2018 but is ruling out a presidential bid in 2020.
The former Democratic vice presidential nominee said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that his place is in the Senate and his decision not to run in 2020 is final.
“Period. Full stop,” Kaine said.
With a heightened national profile after campaigning across the country for more than three months as Hillary Clinton‘s running mate, Kaine could have chosen to pursue his own White House ambitions or tried and play a leading role charting a reeling Democratic Party’s direction in the Donald Trump era.
But the first-term senator and former governor said he belongs in the upper chamber, where he will be part of a Democratic minority whose ability to filibuster will be “the only emergency brake there is” on Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.
Kaine has already been a vocal critic of Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as a senior advisor. Kaine said Bannon’s ties to white nationalism and anti-Semitism disqualify him from a senior role in the White House.
Kaine said he would continue to guard against the “normalization” by Trump of what Kaine said were un-American values, but he added that he’s keeping an open mind about the billionaire businessman’s presidency.
“I have a lot of concerns, but I don’t think it’s fair to the administration to just assume everything that was said during the campaign will be done,” Kaine said, noting that Trump had already shown some post-Election Day flexibility on issues like gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act.
Kaine said there were some issues Democrats could work with Trump on, including increased infrastructure spending and raising the tax rate on carried interest, which is often used by managers for private equity firms and hedge funds to reduce tax payments.
Kaine said

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Florida primaries eyed: Representation of few, or the many?

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

It took just 14,496 votes to win his closed Democratic primary for one of Florida’s 27 congressional seats. Now Darren Soto is virtually assured of going to Capitol Hill, unlikely to face a strong Republican challenge this November in his safely Democratic district.
The state senator snared the votes of just 2 percent of the Orlando area district’s 750,000 residents, beating three other candidates in last month’s closed-party, winner-takes-all primary. Only registered Democrats could cast ballots in Soto’s race and the small percentage of them likely decided the contest before the general election.
It’s a scenario repeated regularly in Florida’s state and congressional races in districts firmly controlled by one or the other of the two major parties. Now such outcomes are prompting calls to reform Florida’s primary system so more voters have a say in who represents them.
“That’s a question that comes up often,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters. Her group is studying the primary system and will make recommendations next year to lawmakers on broadening the electoral process.
Florida is one of only nine states with a strict closed primary system, which prevents independent and minor party voters from casting primary ballots. Proponents say political parties should have the sole say in who they nominate, but critics say closed primaries exclude a large swath of voters, particularly as the number of independent voters grows.
Until 16 years ago, Florida primaries weren’t even over until a candidate won a ballot majority. If no primary candidate received at least 50 percent plus one vote, the top two met in a runoff to decide who reached the general election.
But then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush eliminated the runoff in 2002, a year he was seeking re-election and two years after his brother George W. Bush carried the perennial swing state by

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Peter Schorsch: Answers to top 10 big questions in Florida politics lurch into view

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

If you’re keeping track of time, there is B.T. and A.T.: Before Trump and After Trump.

At the beginning of summer, there were (at least) 10 big questions facing Florida politics. But those questions, particularly the ones involving the myriad of presidential candidates hailing from the Sunshine State, are so B.T.
On June 16, Donald Trump entered the presidential race and very little about the campaign has been the same since. As the venerable Tom Brokaw recently observed about the race, there are no rules, and they’ve all changed.
At the state level, the monopoly board of legislative politics has been thrown into the air by the Florida Supreme Court’s order that the state’s congressional districts be redrawn. An agreement forced upon the Legislature to redraw the state Senate districts only increases the confusion.
It was Florida’s summer of discontent. What was expected did not occur and what did occur could not have been expected.
Here are the answers to the 10 big questions that faced Florida at the beginning of Summer, B.T.
What does Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign rollout look like? The former governor’s formal entrance into the race was as eagerly anticipated — and predictable — as a summer movie blockbuster. And while Bush’s campaign pulled off a perfectly produced curtain-raiser, that really doesn’t matter now. Despite nine-figures worth of campaign money behind him, Bush is struggling to remain in the top-tier of presidential candidates. Bush’s biggest challenge is how to operate in the same ecosystem as Trump. As Chuck Todd said Sunday on Meet the Press, this is not the campaign Bush wanted to run.
Can Marco Rubio remain in the top tier of presidential candidates? When this question was first asked, Rubio led or was in the top three of several national GOP presidential primary polls. Today, Rubio is barely inside the Top 10 in most polls, including those of Iowa and New Hampshire. Rubio’s campaign

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