Posts Tagged ‘Richard Corcoran’

Poor Fort Lauderdale neighborhood pays millions for city streetcar line that won’t reach it

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

By Joseph A. Mann Jr.
FloridaBulldog.org
What does sewage in the streets around western Sistrunk Blvd. (NW 6th Street) in Fort Lauderdale have to do with the $195- million Wave Streetcar line being developed for the city? Plenty, according to Marie “Ms. Peaches” Huntley, neighborhood resident, activist, businesswoman and candidate for commissioner in District 3 of Fort Lauderdale, as well as other critics.
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Joe Henderson: ‘Shy’ Rick Scott needs to pipe up on Medicaid expansion

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott hasn’t been shy about sharing his feelings on the Affordable Care Act. Like any good Republican, he hates it. He wants it to go away.
Now that Republicans have a legitimate proposal on the table to replace Obamacare, though, Scott has gone into stealth mode on the subject. In an Associated Press story, the governor did the Rick Scott Shuffle when asked for his reaction to the plan now being debated intensely in Washington.
Scott said he was glad there is “good conversation” happening on the subject. Not exactly a stop-the-presses comment.
He even met recently with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is pushing a plan that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said could leave up to 24 million Americans without health insurance.
Would the governor like to let us mere mortals in on what was discussed? People in Florida will be greatly affected by whatever finally becomes law, especially if it has a significant impact on Medicaid.
Florida depends heavily on federal money for Medicaid funding, and under the plan being discussed more than 4 million residents here would see their benefits reduced. That probably suits budget hawks in the state House just fine, but wouldn’t be good for many of the state’s elderly and low-income residents.
That’s where Scott needs to pipe up on this subject. In 2014, remember, he went to war (and lost) with the House over Medicaid expansion. Scott pushed for it; now-Speaker Richard Corcoran was intractably against.
Given his background as a hospital administrator before he went into politics, there are few people in the state better versed on health insurance than Scott. He could help frame the debate if he chose.
He certainly hasn’t been shy about making his opinions known recently on other subjects. He has been outspoken about his trying to save Enterprise Florida and Visit

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Despite lawsuit, Florida Lottery sees record sales; tops $100M for 2nd week

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

For a second consecutive week, the Florida Lottery broke its own record, with total sales of more than $141 million, the game’s chief announced Tuesday.
This record for the Sunshine State’s 29-year-old lottery comes despite a nasty lawsuit that pitted Florida Gov. Rick Scott against the state’s headstrong House Speaker, Rep. Richard Corcoran.
For the second successive week, the Florida Lottery’s contributions to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) exceeded $19 million from scratch-off sales alone.
Total scratch-off sales for the week reached $103.23 million, with overall sales hitting $141.28 million.
Additionally, this marks the second consecutive week in Florida Lottery history that scratch-off sales exceeded $100 million in a single week.
“The consistent scratch-off sales demonstrated by the Florida Lottery over the past two weeks are integral to our mission to generate as much revenue as possible towards public education,” said Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie. “The lottery remains committed to providing Florida’s students with the opportunities they need to be successful in school and in life.”
Over the past 29 years, the Florida Lottery has established itself as a dependable funding source for public education.
For 15 consecutive years, the Lottery has transferred more than $1 billion to education throughout the state while remaining one of the most efficient lotteries in the nation. Additionally, the Lottery has contributed more than $5 billion to the Bright Futures Scholarship Program to send over 750,000 students to college.
Florida Lottery contributions are approximately 6 percent of the state’s total education budget. Lottery funds are appropriated by the Florida Legislature and are administered by the Florida Department of Education.
The Florida Lottery reinvests 98 percent of its revenue back into Florida’s economy through prize payouts, commissions to more than 13,000 Florida retailers and transfers to education. Since 1988, Florida Lottery games have paid more than $52.4 billion in prizes and made

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Joe Henderson: After Enterprise Florida fight, Rick Scott has little political capital left

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Rick Scott went to Tallahassee in 2011 as an outsider. He often has operated like one as well, and not always in a good way.
In a private company, stubborn employees can get fired for standing up to the boss. In politics, though, defiance can be considered a virtue. Eventually, people who vow to run government like a business learn you can’t just issue orders and expect things to get done.
Real democracy can be a free-for-all.
That brings us to the current state of affairs in the capitol city, a time that has the seen the governor behaving less like a CEO and more like a politician trying to win friends and influence people.
To save his most-favored Enterprise Florida agency, the governor put a public campaign that included visits, robo-calls, videos and a public mocking of House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
It didn’t work, at least not yet.
The House dealt the governor a stinging rebuke last week with by passing HB 7005 – or what Scott calls “job-killing legislation” – by an overwhelming 87-28 vote.
Scott responded with a statement reading in part, “Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism. But, I want to be very clear – a vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida.”
Everyone waits now to see what happens in the Senate, where Jeff Brandes has a bill that would keep Enterprise Florida but with much greater state oversight. Scott, meanwhile, is keeping up the pressure.
His office sent out eight news releases Monday within 19 minutes touting job gains in cities around the state. He made sure to credit the embattled jobs agency.
It was easy for Scott to get his way when he arrived in Tallahassee on a populist wave, promising to produce jobs and get Florida out

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House passes 6-year lobbying ban on former lawmakers, others

Friday, March 10th, 2017

The Florida House has approved extend the state’s lobbying ban on former lawmakers and statewide elected officers from two to six years.
With no debate, House members on Friday voted 110-3 for the measure (HB 7003), a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The bill now heads to the Senate.
If signed into law, the measure would be the longest lobbying ban in the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But it has raised constitutional concerns over free speech and restraint of trade among critics.
The new ban, carried by Larry Metz, the Yalaha Republican who chairs the Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, is aimed at “the perception, if not the reality, of the ‘revolving door,’ ” he has said.
It would apply “only to those individuals who were members of the Legislature after November 8, 2016, or who were statewide elected officers after November 8, 2016.”
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Matt Caldwell more than $700K in anticipation of agriculture commissioner run

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Matt Caldwell raised more than $700,000 ahead of the the 2017 Legislative Session, building up his coffers ahead of an anticipated 2018 run for Agriculture Commissioner.
State records show Friends of Matt Caldwell, the North Fort Myers Republican’s political committee, raised $412,075 in February. That one-month fundraising haul marked the largest fundraising raising period since August 2016, according to state campaign finance records.
The committee raised $66,000 in January. And according to contributions posted to the committee’s website, Caldwell raised another $224,980 between March 2 and March 6. All told, the committee raised about $703,000 between Jan. 1 and March 6.
“I am deeply honored by the broad support we have received,” he said in a statement. “We far exceeded our pre-session goals.”
Caldwell, the chairman of the Government Accountability Committee, told FloridaPolitics.com in February that he intended to file to run for Agriculture Commissioner in August. That decision is meant to honor a request from House Speaker Richard Corcoran that members of his leadership team hold off filing to run for higher office until after the legislative session.
Caldwell isn’t the only 2018 Agriculture Commissioner hopeful posting big numbers. Sen. Denise Grimsley, who filed to run in February for the seat being vacated by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, raised $735,000 between her Feb. 1 announcement and March 7, the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session.
The Sebring Republican brought $295,000 for her official campaign and $440,00 for her political committee, Saving Florida’s Heartland.
“Denise is so very honored by the support she received in these first 35 days, and while she is working during the Session to represent her constituents and work for a greater Florida, her campaign team will focus on the road ahead to the primary,” said David Johnson, who is serving as the general consultant to Grimsley’s campaign.
Putnam can’t run again because of

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House approves bill to rein in VISIT FLORIDA

Friday, March 10th, 2017

VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency, will be subject to greater oversight under a bill passed the Florida House Friday.
State representatives passed the measure (HB 9), sponsored by Paul Renner of Palm Coast, by a vote of 80-35. Its reception in the Senate will likely not be warm: That chamber has not moved a matching companion bill.
The legislation has caused a war of words between Speaker Richard Corcoran and Gov. Rick Scott, who oversees the public-private agency that is funded largely with taxpayers’ money.
The speaker, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, has been critical of the agency, even threatening to sue after it refused to reveal a secret deal with Miami rap superstar Pitbull to promote Florida tourism.
The bill requires VISIT FLORIDA contracts “to contain performance standards, operating budgets and salaries of employees of the contracting entity,” and those deals would have to be posted online. It limits employees’ travel expenses and would cap annual pay at $130,000.
Stemming from the Pitbull deal, the proposal also would delete a public records exemption for “marketing projects and research.” It would ban any promotional project from “benefit(ing) only one company.” And it would force the agency to be funded with more private dollars.
In debate, some Democrats—including Tallahassee’s Loranne Ausley—faulted the bill for hurting the “mom and pop” businesses, such as family-owned hotels, who depend on help from the state.
“We know a robust marketing budget translates to more visitors,” she said.
St. Petersburg’s Wengay Newton added, “I think this is too severe a measure to happen today.” But some Republicans, including Key Largo’s Holly Raschein, also voted against the bill.
“This bill is not about whether we should promote tourism in this state,” Renner said. “This bill is about accountability and whether VISIT FLORIDA wants to submit to accountability to move forward.”
The bill does not address next year’s funding for VISIT FLORIDA, which will be worked

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Rick Scott: ‘Florida Lawmakers to vote on job killing legislation tomorrow’

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Florida Gov. Rick Scott sounded the alarm Thursday evening — again — on a bill that is the bane of his existence this session: HB 7005.
“Tomorrow, members of the Florida House of Representatives will vote on HB 7005, a bill which eliminates a large majority of Florida’s economic development and jobs programs. The State of Florida relies heavily on these programs to diversify and strengthen our economy by attracting targeted industries and good, high-paying jobs that improve the lives of Florida families,” read a press release from his office.
Scott’s releases itemized the long list of incentive programs on the chopping block: Enterprise Florida, Inc, the Florida Defense Alliance, the Florida Small Business Development Center Network, the Quick Response Training Program, the Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research, the Capital Investment Tax Credit, the Quick Action Closing Fund, and dozens of others.
As well, Scott provided a helpful chart indicating newly-recalcitrant members of the Florida House who had voted for incentive programs in the past.
Paul Renner, the chart noted, voted for HB 7067, an economic development bill, in 2015.
Speaker Richard Corcoran supported seven economic development bills between 2011 and 2015.
Rep. Clay Ingram, meanwhile, supported eight economic incentive bills between 2011 and 2016.
Gov. Scott may be a lame duck, and political rivals may want to get to his right.
But as this press release indicates, Gov. Scott isn’t going to let his incentive programs go without a fight.
Expect the material in this press release to be used and re-used by the governor against members of the Florida House who are taking direct aim at his legacy as the “jobs governor.”
 
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House looks at bill to kill Enterprise Florida

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

The Florida House Thursday began its consideration of a bill to obliterate the Enterprise Florida economic development organization, castigated by Speaker Richard Corcoran as a dispenser of “corporate welfare.”
The bill (HB 7005) also gets rid of a swarm of business incentive programs that sponsor Paul Renner said fail the return-on-investment test. (They are listed in the bill analysis.)
Several Democrats peppered Renner with skepticism, but the bill also was questioned by Jay Fant, a Jacksonville Republican.
“Do we have to throw away everything,” Fant asked, with Renner answering, “In fact, we do not,” explaining that some incentives will be kept.
The effort to abolish the organization, a favorite of Gov. Rick Scott, has fueled a feud between him and Corcoran. The governor says incentives ultimately help create jobs for Floridians.
Scott recently traveled to the home districts of House members supporting the bill to publicly shame them under the guise of promoting his 2017-18 budget recommendations.
Renner also was questioned over the elimination of television and film incentives that take the form of tax breaks for producers.
Because of the state’s climate and scenery, “Florida (itself) is a permanent incentive,” Renner said.
That stoked a comeback from Rep. Matt Willhite, a Wellington Democrat. He noted the “Ballers” TV series relocated to California from Florida, and the “Bloodline” series, which was shot in the Keys, ended after it was clear those shows wouldn’t get incentives.
“Is the beach and the sun really enough to bring the entertainment industry to Florida?” Willhite mused.
Rep. David Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat, later tried to amend the bill to put those incentives back in the overhaul bill; the attempt failed on a voice vote.
“We get enormous free publicity out of the films shot in the state,” he said, mentioning “Moonlight,” which recently won the Oscar for best picture and was shot in Miami.
The movie “got no incentives, by the way,” Richardson added. Renner’s bill

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Sponsor proposes changes to VISIT FLORIDA bill

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

As the House gets ready to start considering a bill to overhaul VISIT FLORIDA, its sponsor filed an amendment to dilute some of its strict requirements.
The measure (HB 9) will be on the House floor today (Thursday) for questions. Rep. Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, filed the amendment Tuesday, records show.
It would impose new reporting requirements on the state’s tourism marketing agency only when a project it funds is slated to get over 50 percent of its budget “from funds derived from a tax.” The bill now applies to deals that involve any amount of public dollars.  
But the proposal still mandates disclosures such as “specific performance standards,” “the value of any services provided,” and “salaries of all employees and board members … and (their) projected travel and entertainment expenses.”
Originally, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, aimed to abolish both Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization and dispenser of many of the state’s business incentives, and VISIT FLORIDA.
Both are officially public-private endeavors, but both are overwhelmingly funded through taxpayers’ dollars. House leadership later decided to split the legislation, still eliminating Enterprise Florida but saving and overhauling VISIT FLORIDA.
The speaker had threatened to sue VISIT FLORIDA after it refused to reveal a secret deal with Miami rap superstar Pitbull to promote Florida tourism, later revealed to be worth up to $1 million. The ensuing controversy cost former agency CEO Will Seccombe his job.
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Report: Richard Corcoran urges Democratic support of Enterprise Florida bill

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

House Speaker Richard Corcoran is asking for Democrats support to legislation that would abolish Enterprise Florida, saying if Democrats join the House will be able to override Gov. Rick Scott’s expected veto of the bill.
POLITICO Florida reported that Corcoran asked Democrats for their help to “get a veto-proof majority” during a House Democrats dinner.
The dinner came on the eve of the bill (HB 7005) first hearing by the full House. The House is also expected to discuss a bill (HB 9) today that would tighten restrictions on Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency, when it goes into session later today.
There are 41 Democrats in the House, and 79 Republicans. In the Senate, 25 of the 40 members of Republicans. POLITICO Florida reported Corcoran told House Democrats it was time for the Senate, which has stayed out of the fight, to “pony up and say ‘are you going to clean up these agencies.’”
POLTICO Florida reported Corcoran told Democrats he wants “to vote their conscience.”
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Scratched: Judge sides with Richard Corcoran, tosses out Lottery’s $700M contract

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

A Tallahassee judge has invalidated the Florida Lottery’s $700 million contract for new equipment, essentially agreeing with House Speaker Richard Corcoran that the agency went on an illegal spending spree when it inked the deal last year.
Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers issued her 15-page order late Tuesday afternoon. She presided over a nonjury trial in the case Monday.
The multiple-year contract involved new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets. The Lottery is booming — it sold more than $6.2 billion in tickets last year, records show.
“The Florida Lottery continues to make record contributions to our public schools and today’s ruling jeopardizes billions of dollars for Florida students,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “I strongly disagree with today’s decision and we will appeal.”
Gievers agreed with House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum, who had said the deal broke state law by going “beyond (the Lottery’s) existing budget limitations.”
Because Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie “lacked the legal authority to enter into the IGT (International Game Technology) contract, (it) must, therefore, be found to be void and unenforceable,” Gievers wrote.
She faulted the agency for, among other things, not first seeking the Legislature’s permission to enter into a deal that committed the state to as much as two decades’ worth of funding.
A message seeking comment was left for a spokeswoman for Las Vegas-based IGT. Corcoran’s spokesman said a response was coming later Tuesday evening.
The new deal provides much more than equipment, with provisions for in-store signage, self-service ticket checkers and upgraded security in the communications network.
https://www.scribd.com/embeds/341230088/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-BWtWHsF2YwdmpSnleplj&show_recommendations=true
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Capitol Reax: Opening Day of the 2017 Legislative Session

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

The 2017 Legislative Session kicked off Tuesday with Gov. Rick Scott’s penultimate “State of the State” address, and speeches from Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

“This session represents Florida’s best chance yet for solving an ongoing environmental catastrophe that affects millions of Floridians.
For nearly 20 years, scientists have agreed that a southern reservoir will reduce harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to our coastal waterways, rehydrate America’s Everglades and Florida Bay, and help meet the growing water needs of 8 million Floridians in the years ahead.
Senate President Joe Negron, Senator Rob Bradley and Representative Thad Altman are to be congratulated for their leadership. We look forward to working with them, along with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Governor Rick Scott. We are hopeful that this critical water infrastructure project becomes a reality.” – Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg

 “AIF congratulates Governor Rick Scott on all of his accomplishments outlined in his State of the State address today, and supports his business-friendly agenda for the coming year.
Since the day the Governor took office, he has promised Floridians that he would grow our job base, cut our taxes and create an environment where new businesses want to locate, stay and contribute to our economy.  Our Governor has done just that for our Florida families.
This legislative session, AIF and our members stand with Governor Scott in ensuring Florida job creators are excelling and Florida families are benefitting from a pro-business environment in their home state.  AIF congratulates Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature on making Florida one of the best places to do business in the United States.” — AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney

“After 20 years of Republican state government control, it’s clearer now more than ever that the status quo is not working for the people of Florida. 44 percent of households across the state struggle to make ends meet; our infrastructure is ill-equipped to meet the demands of

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Jose Oliva talks doughnuts and incentives after Rick Scott speech

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

House Republican leaders defended their assault on Gov. Rick Scott‘s economic development and incentive plans, saying success in business shouldn’t depend on a government handout.
Oliva
Speaker Richard Corcoran and state Rep. Jose Oliva, slated to be speaker in 2018-20, spoke with reporters Tuesday after Scott’s State of the State address before a joint session of the House and Senate.
Florida, like other states, incentivizes businesses to move or expand here through a variety of tax breaks and public-paid subsidies. Scott, a proponent, says spending public dollars on private companies is worth it for the jobs he says they create.
“I will admit it is probably more difficult for people who have never gone hungry, or gone through foreclosure, or seen their family car repossessed, to understand this,” Scott said in his speech.
“If you have never lived through these experiences, it may be harder to understand the urgency,” Scott added. “I am fighting for our state’s job programs because I am fighting for families just like mine growing up.”
Oliva, a cigar company executive, said Scott underestimated House members’ experience.
“Very many of us in that chamber know what it’s like to be poor,” said Oliva, who remains as CEO of Oliva Cigar Co. after selling the company last year to a European concern. “We know what it’s like to have a car repossessed, to have the power cut in your house.
“We also know what it’s like to start a business,” he added. “I don’t know that when I was building my business I would have liked some of my tax dollars to go to help a competitor.”
Scott, who didn’t mention it specifically in his Tuesday speech, often has spoken of a doughnut shop he ran in the 1970s.
“Imagine if the governor, while he had that same doughnut shop, had his tax dollars go to Dunkin’ Donuts so they could come

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Richard Corcoran: Florida House is keeping the faith with voters

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

In prepared remarks for his speech Tuesday, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran again threw down the gauntlet to Senate leadership and the Governor’s office, offering an unapologetic defense of the House’s approach to state government under his watch.
That said, Corcoran asserts that the House is willing to negotiate, to “come to the table, sit down and work together to ensure real reform and genuine accountability.”
“We don’t believe the House has a monopoly on good ideas.  We’re willing to listen, we’re willing to talk, and we’re willing to enter into good compromise,” Corcoran asserted.

Corcoran said his vision for the Florida House is a pure one: “To govern as we campaigned,” despite the “outrage, vehement opposition and personal attacks” that have resulted from political rivals.
“And so be it. Because everything we have done so far — we have done to keep faith with the voters who sent us here,” Corcoran said.
Among the accomplishments, Corcoran cited: “the toughest ethics and transparency rules of any chamber of any legislature in the United States” and “an end to the shadowy pork barrel budgets that wasted millions in taxpayer money.”
In his prepared remarks, Corcoran also alluded to the House’s focus on Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, two priority incentive projects of Gov. Rick Scott.
“We questioned an agency’s spending and exposed its failures and abuses,” Corcoran said. “We forced another agency into the sunshine, sued a rapper and won, only to reveal even more wasteful spending.”
Of course, there’s more to government in Florida than suing Pitbull.

Corcoran’s remarks also focused on the House’s new insistence that universities, economic development agencies, and tourist development commissions have transparent budgeting, and that state agencies “demonstrate they are obtaining value for taxpayers.”
“We have taken on each of these fights because they were the right thing to do, and we will carry that mission forward,” Corcoran asserted.
Corcoran, over the next 60 days, vows

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Guns, gambling and taxes: Legislators return to work

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Once the Florida Legislature kicks off its 60-day Session March 7, legislators are expected to pass, or kill, dozens of measures dealing with everything from abortion to gambling and the environment.
So far, more than 2,000 bills have been filed, but in the end, legislators usually pass fewer than 300 pieces of legislation each year.
Here’s a look at some of the top issues this Session:
DEATH PENALTY: Florida legislators are expected to quickly pass a measure that would require a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed. Last year, the state Supreme Court declared a new law requiring a 10-2 jury vote to impose the death penalty unconstitutional.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Voters last November overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2, which allows higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical ailments than had been allowed under state law. Legislators will consider bills to implement the amendment, including possibly expanding who can grow and sell medical marijuana.
GUNS: There are about two dozen gun-related bills that already have been filed and the vast majority would expand gun rights so they can be carried in places that they are now not allowed including university campuses and non-secure areas of airports. Democrats have proposed more restrictions, but they have virtually no chance of passing.
GAMBLING: Top legislative leaders say they would like to come up with a comprehensive overhaul of gambling laws. But so far, the House and Senate are divided on what should be done.
The Senate is considering a bill that would allow slot machines at dog and horse tracks in eight counties outside South Florida. The Senate gambling bill would also allow the Seminole Tribe to offer craps and roulette at its casinos.
The House version would allow the Seminoles to keep blackjack and slot machines at its casinos for 20 years. But it

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House witness calls Lottery contract “complete departure” from protocol

Monday, March 6th, 2017

A multiple-year, $700 million contract for new Florida Lottery equipment is “a complete departure from the way we’ve operated for many years,” a House budget analyst testified Monday.
Bruce Topp, budget chief for the Government Operation and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, was on the stand for the non-jury trial between the Lottery and House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the contract, made final last year.
Corcoran says the Lottery can’t sign “a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.” The Lottery’s outside counsel counters that the Legislature cannot “micromanage individual contracts.”
Topp told House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum that when he looked over the deal after it was done, he quickly figured it would cost the agency roughly $47.5 million to fund each year.
That’s more than the Lottery’s current appropriation for $34.6 million yearly under the previous equipment contract, he added.
“The quick determination … was that they did not have enough to pay for their contract … That really caught our eye,” Topp said.
With Lottery sales continually increasing, the agency pulled out the stops on a big deal to get new retailer terminals, in-store signage, self-service lottery vending machines, self-service ticket checkers and an upgraded communications network.
For example, the new agreement jumps the number of leased “full-service vending machines” from 500 to 5,000.
Lottery proceeds benefit the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which helps pay for public education. The Lottery surpassed $6.2 billion in sales during 2016, it said.
The contract, with International Game Technology (IGT), is for an initial 10-year period, and the Lottery already exercised the first of its three available 3-year renewal options.
In cross-examination, Lottery attorney Barry Richard suggested a fail-safe was built in, that “if the Legislature doesn’t appropriate the funds, the vendor is entitled to nothing.”
But that would lead to a situation in which the agency could be seen as breaking the contract, Topp said, and doing so is a “substantial change in policy.”
Richard also noted that the

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Janet Cruz is ready to lead her caucus during what’s expect to be a raucous Session

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Speaking to an audience in her home district of Tampa last month, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz feels Florida doesn’t have a spending or revenue problem.
Tallahassee has a “priority problem,” the House District 62 representative said.
She maintains that attitude going into the 2017 regular Legislative Session, which kicks off officially Tuesday.
“The Republicans have continued to focus on massive handouts for the ultrawealthy and the large corporations at the expense of our public education, at the expense of our hospitals, at the expense of our environment, and at the expense of small businesses, which in my opinion is the backbone of this country,” Cruz told FloridaPolitics.com in a phone interview last week.
“All of these issues are about creating good paying jobs that provide economic security for working Floridians and essentially these people are just looking for some economic security, higher wages, better-paying jobs.”
While acknowledging that the Rick Scott versus Richard Corcoran contretemps will entertain Capitol observers this spring, she supports Corcoran’s attempts to kill Enterprise Florida, the public-private agency that entices companies to add jobs in the state.
“I have a hard time stroking million dollars checks for millionaires. I just don’t see it,” she says, referring to the median income in her district being only $39,000.
Cruz is pleased that the bills to defund Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida were decoupled in the past few weeks, because she sees the value of Visit Florida to the Sunshine State, but only if greater oversight is imposed on its management.
“Salaries as a state employee are typically lower than in corporate America, yet for some reason Visit Florida doesn’t quite subscribe to that salary range as a state employee,” she says, referring to the fact that former Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe made an annual salary of $293,000.
Cruz is one of the leaders of the Tampa Bay area legislative delegation, where transportation remains

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Trial to begin in Richard Corcoran v. Florida Lottery

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Lawyers for the Florida Lottery and House Speaker Richard Corcoran will square off today in what’s expected to be a one-day trial.
The non-jury trial, before Circuit Judge Karen Gievers in the Leon County Courthouse, is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 3-G. Each side has said they will call only two witnesses.
The speaker sued the agency, which reports to Gov. Rick Scott, saying it was guilty of “wasteful and improper spending” for signing a multiple-year, $700 million contract for new equipment from International Game Technology (IGT).
Corcoran says the Lottery can’t sign “a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.” The deal with IGT is for an initial 10-year period, and the Lottery exercised the first of its three available three-year renewal options.
Barry Richard, the Greenberg Traurig attorney representing the Lottery, has countered that the Legislature cannot “micromanage individual contracts.”
He has said the state’s “invitation to negotiate” for the contract discloses that any deal would be contingent on “an annual appropriation” from lawmakers. Such a disclosure is required under state law.
 
 
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Richard Corcoran to pick Darryl Rouson, Tom Lee to constitution panel

Monday, March 6th, 2017

House Speaker Richard Corcoran is expected to announce that Sen. Darryl Rouson, Rep. Chris Sprowls, and Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco will be among his nine picks for the Constitution Revision Commission. He’s also putting himself on the Commission.
The Land O’Lakes Republican’s selections will round out the 37-member review panel, which meets every 20 years to look over and suggest changes to the Florida Constitution. The panel must be established within 30 days before the regular 2017 Legislative Session convenes.
The annual 60-day session kicks off Tuesday.
Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, was elected to the Senate in 2016, after serving serving eight years in the Florida House. He’s a former Pinellas County prosecutor, who also served as commissioner on the Tax and Budget Reform Commission.
Sprowls is also a former prosecutor, leaving the State Attorney’s Office over the summer to join Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney. First elected in 2014, the Palm Harbor Republican has quickly moved up the leadership ladder, and is in line to become Speaker after the 2020 elections.
Sprowls isn’t the only member of the House leadership team expected to get a spot at the table. Corcoran is also expected to name Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Speaker Pro Tempore Jeanette Nunez to panel, according to sources briefed on the Speaker’s plans.
Look for Corcoran to also select Rich Newsome, a long-time friend and attorney who has lobbied on behalf of the state’s trial lawyers; Sen. Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican and former Senate President; and Erika Donalds, a member of the Collier County School Board and the wife of freshman Rep. Byron Donalds. 
 Corcoran’s announcements comes just days after Gov. Rick Scott announced his appointments, which were also heavy on supporters and political allies.
As Governor, Scott selected 15 of the 37 commissioners, as well as its chairman. The Naples Republican selected Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder who ran for U.S. Senate in 2016, as chairman.
Senate President Joe Negron also got nine picks, while the Chief Justice

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Florida’s legislative leaders talk issues, personalities

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Florida Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are Republican lawyers. But the similarities start to drift from there.
Negron calls himself boring and is the quiet, deliberative type. Corcoran likes listening to music at top volume, and his approach to leadership reflects that.
The Associated Press interviewed each separately about their backgrounds, personalities and priorities as they prepare for their first legislative session as their chambers’ leaders. Here’s what they had to say:
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What motivated you to first run for office?
Corcoran said his interest in government was a lesson he learned from his parents, who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. “They always were very involved in understanding and following and trying to affect our government at all levels because they recognized and lived through the horrors of what bad government or the wrong philosophy lead to.”
Negron: “I’ve always been fascinated by how the political process works, and I have strong opinions on some core issues, like the sovereignty of the individual. In government service, you have an opportunity to advocate and promote those things you believe in and make a tangible and measurable difference.”
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What is the one bill you are most proud of passing?
“I couldn’t tell you one,” said Corcoran, who listed several bills. The first one he mentioned was a billed passed his freshman year in 2011 that requires urgent-care centers to post the costs of their 50 most frequently provided medical services. Negron sponsored the bill in the Senate.
Negron: “We passed a bill saying that out-of-state insurance companies had to follow the same Florida consumer protection laws if they wanted to sell policies in our state.”
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What are your 2017 priorities?
Corcoran: “Scaling back the size of government; eliminating and getting a hold on pork barrel spending and wasteful government spending and cutting that out of

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Final push for fundraising before 2017 Session kicks off

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Think of it as the last hurrah before the 2017 Legislative Session.
Members of the House and Senate can’t raise money while the Legislature is session, putting a 60-day pause on fundraising each year. And while that may be good news for their most loyal contributors’ pocketbooks, it does mean you can expect a mad dash for last minute fundraising before clock starts on the 2017 Session.
House Majority, the fundraising arm of House Republicans, has a bevy of fundraisers planned for Monday. All of the events are hosted by Speaker Richard Corcoran, Rep. Jose Oliva, and Rep. Chris Sprowls.
Reps. Cord Byrd, Clay Yarborough, and Jason Fischer will kick off their fundraising early in the day with a reception at the Governors Club, 202 S. Adams Street, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Yarborough will be back at the Governors Club at 5 p.m. for another fundraising reception, this time with Reps. Thomas Leek and Stan McClain.
The Southern Public House, 224 East College Ave, is the place to be Monday evening from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. That’s where you’ll find a fundraiser for Reps. James Grant, Mel Ponder, and Halsey Beshears. Rep. Brad Drake will be raising dough a few blocks away at Clyde’s and Costello’s, 210 South Adams Street. His fundraiser is also scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
If hanging out at bars aren’t your style, then the fundraising reception for Reps. Cary Pigman, Michael Grant, Bryon Donalds, Joe Gruters, Ralph Massullo, and Julio Gonzalez might be up your alley. The event is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Governors Inn, 209 S. Adams Street.
Senators are also getting in on the action. Senate President Joe Negron, Sen. Bill Galvano, Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, and Sen. Jack Latvala will host a fundraiser for Ed Hooper, who’s

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2017 Legislative Session preview: Oscar Braynon on juvenile justice, incentives and Chance the Rapper

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

This is the first legislative session that South Florida’s Oscar Braynon II will be the Senate’s Democratic Leader.
The 40-year-old, who succeeded term-limited former Leader Arthenia Joyner, was first elected in 2011 after serving in the House and on the Miami Gardens City Council before that.
Though he’s in the minority, Braynon has high hopes for legislative breakthroughs with the GOP majority under President Joe Negron. “We have a good personal relationship and we’ve helped each other before we were in leadership,” Braynon says.
That said, one issue he’s already behind on is “decoupling,” in which the state would no longer require dog and horse tracks to run live races if they wish to offer other gambling, such as slots or cards. The House supports it this year; the Senate does not.
Braynon’s in favor because it would allow his district’s Calder Race Track, which he said he lives “around the corner from,” to sell its racetrack land to developers for much-needed retail, restaurants and a movie theater.
The city of 112,000 has no movie theater, one sit-down restaurant and little retail shopping, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III recently told lawmakers.
But Braynon may have better luck on initiatives like juvenile civil citations, which gives “first-time misdemeanor offenders the opportunity to participate in intervention services at the earliest stage of delinquency,” according to the Department of Juvenile Justice. A bill now being carried by Anitere Flores, Negron’s right hand as President Pro Tempore, would expand their use.
Braynon gave a pre-session interview with FloridaPolitics.com last week. Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.  
Q: What are you hoping to get accomplished this year?
A: I’m looking to some serious reform in our civil and criminal justice system. I think both sides of the aisle have come to

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Combative House Speaker vows contentious Session

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

The outcome of this year’s Florida Legislature session may depend largely on a 51-year-old firebrand attorney with a deep conservative streak and a love for cigars and the band U2.
New House Speaker Richard Corcoran has taken on rapper Pitbull, gotten in a knock-down fight with fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott and vowed to keep legislators in session for months if he doesn’t get his way on property taxes.
He has an ambitious agenda for the 60-day session that starts next week, which also includes term limits for Florida’s most senior judges and throwing out some of the state’s regulations on health care providers. While at one time he lashed out at then-candidate Donald Trump, Corcoran has adopted the president’s populist tone in vowing to fight a “culture of corruption” in a town where Republicans have held sway for nearly 20 years.
Corcoran is unapologetic for his combative ways.
“I think certainly in the political arena, that the hardest thing, in my opinion, that determines a person’s character is what a man does when everyone is looking and you know you are going to go against the grain,” he said last month at a Tallahassee private school appearance.
Corcoran has flummoxed fellow Republicans and stirred speculation he’s more interested in grabbing headlines in anticipation of a potential run for governor in 2018. Corcoran has declined to discuss future political plans.
“Richard is not a political opportunist, he’s never been one,” said Mike Fasano, the Pasco County tax collector and a former legislator who met Corcoran nearly 35 years ago when he was a teenager helping out on local legislative campaigns. “He’s trying to accomplish what he truly believes in.”
Born in Toronto, Corcoran moved to Florida when he was 11. At a young age, he became enamored of conservative thinkers such as author William F. Buckley Jr.,

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Legislature may agree on 2017 budget rule compromise

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

House and Senate leaders have tentatively brokered a rules deal to avoid a meltdown over how requests to fund hometown projects get into the state budget.
Released Friday, the proposed joint rule follows Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala telling his chamber’s Rules Committee in February that House leaders had agreed to compromise to streamline the process.
“I think this is a big potential problem that’s been dodged,” the Clearwater Republican said following an event in Naples on Friday. “The only thing you have to do in the Constitution during the session is do a budget, and by having a game plan and a joint approach to that before we start out is a big deal.”
The new rule first defines an appropriations project identically to the House Rules. It also stipulates that no appropriations project “may be included in a budget conference report unless the project was included in the House or Senate general appropriations act,” according to a memo to House members from Speaker Richard Corcoran.
In the memo, Corcoran goes on to say that the “Senate has agreed to collect and post online specific detailed information on each appropriations project prior to the passage of their proposed general appropriations act.”
“The House is getting something that is important to them … written documentation of a request, so they’re not just in the middle of the night, on a napkin, or whatever they want to say. We’re getting what we wanted, in that we still have until we pass our budget the right to put in our requests, and it’s not arbitrarily cut off four or five weeks before session starts,” said Latvala. “Could this have been done before the process started this year? Yes. But I’m glad it’s done now.”
The new rule further grandfathers in existing recurring projects as long as they do not receive additional funding. New money must be non-recurring, meaning

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Report: Rick Scott to invoke Donald Trump in battle with House

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott will is expected to bring President Donald Trump into his battle with the Florida House over taxpayer incentives during a speech at a Republican National Committee fundraiser this weekend.
POLITICO Florida reported Friday that Scott is expected to insert Trump into his messaging. According to excerpts of the speech provided to the news organization, Scott is expected to say that the “biggest surprise President Trump will have in his transition in his transition from business life to political life is the same surprise I had — the number of people who treat politics as a game.”
The Naples Republican is in the middle of a well-publicized fight with House Republicans, led by Speaker Richard Corcoran, who want to shut down Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency. Legislation passed the House Appropriations Committee last month that would eliminate the agency and a slew of other economic incentive programs, as well as drastically slash funding for Visit Florida, the state’s tourist marketing agency.
POLITICO Florida reported Scott will also cast House Republicans as hypocrites. According to excerpts provided to POLITICO Florida, Scott is expected to say he has “vowed to fight against this kind of hypocrisy and I know President Trump will do the same thing at the national level.”
The post Report: Rick Scott to invoke Donald Trump in battle with House appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Does splitting bill in two edge Enterprise Florida closer to chopping block?

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Democratic lawmaker David Richardson appears to be getting his Enterprise Florida wish from his conservative House colleagues.
The Miami Beach state rep won’t be getting a grant from the taxpayer-supported economic incentive organization; rather he’ll soon have a chance to help abolish it.
House leadership, headed by Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, will be splitting a bill aimed at eliminating Enterprise Florida and reducing Visit Florida’s taxpayer-funded tourism marketing budget by 67 percent into two bills, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The move incorporates feedback from a House Appropriations Committee last week.
“I have very little good to say about Enterprise Florida and the way it has been conducted in the past,” Richardson said during the committee meeting, echoing sentiments from the organization’s toughest critics.
But after recounting several issues, such as the public-private partnership’s 90-10 taxpayer-to-private funding ratio, poor performance and a cash “slush fund” used to purchase furniture and pay for travel, Richardson voted against cutting Enterprise Florida.
He disagreed with the proposed funding reduction on Visit Florida, so said he had no other choice but to cast a dissenting vote because the two organizations were packaged together.
“But if you pull out Enterprise Florida … I’d be happy to kill it for you,” he said.
Splitting the bill in two also honors Rep. Paul Renner’s, R-Palm Coast, commitment to Democratic Minority Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, to allow for further debate on Visit Florida funding. With that promise, Cruz, the highest-ranking House Democrat, voted to eliminate Enterprise Florida last week.
Richardson, Cruz and other Democrats will have an opportunity to vote with their GOP counterparts, perhaps by late next week.
HB 7005 is scheduled to be split Monday in the House Rules and Policy Committee. All references to Visit Florida will be moved to a new bill, HB 9, and the remaining language would eliminate Enterprise Florida, as well

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Email Insights: Adam Putnam political committee brings in more than $2M in February

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The political committee backing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says it raised more than $2 million in February, bring total contributions to more than $9 million.
In an email  to supporters from Justin Hollis, the chairman of Florida Grown, said the committee raised more than $2.25 million in February 2017. Hollis said that one-month fundraising haul brought total contributions to the committee, which is expected to fuel Putnam’s 2018 campaign, to more than $9.4 million.
“Support for Adam’s Florida Grown PC is not only evident through fundraising, however, it’s also seen on social media platforms,” wrote Hollis. “More than 170,000 people follow Adam on Facebook, while Phil Levine has just 44,000, Bob Buckhorn has just 17,000, Gwen Graham has just 13,000 followers and the newly announced gubernatorial candidate from the Capital City Andrew Gillum has just under 17,000.”
Gillum formally announced his 2018 bid Wednesday; while Levine and Graham have both indicated they are mulling a bid. Buckhorn is also believed to be considering a run.
Putnam is expected to run in 2018. House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Jack Latvala are believed to be considering a run.
Hollis went on to say that behind the scenes, the Florida Grown team is “working hard, traveling the state and building relationships.”
 
The post Email Insights: Adam Putnam political committee brings in more than $2M in February appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Jack Latvala raises nearly $1M in February

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Sen. Jack Latvala’s political committee had one of its strongest fundraising period to date, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in February.
Florida Leadership Committee, Latvala’s political committee, raised at least $870,083 during the one-month fundraising period, according to contribution data posted to the committee’s website. That number is expected to rise to more than $1 million when final numbers are calculated and reported to the state later this month.
That one-month fundraising haul boosts total contributions to the committee to more than $7.7 million.
Top contributors during February included FCCI Services, Altria Client Services, The Voice of Florida Business PAC, Mednax Inc., LEMA Construction & Developers, Broadview Realty, Equestrian Sport Productions, Costa Nursery Farms, and Southeast QSR.
The big fundraising month comes as rumors have been circulating that Latvala is mulling a 2018 gubernatorial bid. The Clearwater Republican can’t run for re-election in 2018 because of term limits, but earlier this month told the Tampa Bay Times he considering a run for governor.
A prolific fundraiser, the February numbers mark one of the biggest fundraising period the committee has reported since 2013. State records show the committee raised $487,625 in February 2015, the next largest haul posted on the state’s campaign finance website.
Latvala is one of several Republicans believed to be considering a run in 2018. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Richard Corcoran are often mentioned as possible contenders.
On the Democratic side, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum made it official this week, announcing he plans to run for governor. State records show he filed his paperwork Tuesday, and he formally announced his run Wednesday. Gwen Graham, Philip Levine and John Morgan are also considering a run.
The post Jack Latvala raises nearly $1M in February appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Florida House splitting legislation on incentives, tourism funding

Monday, February 27th, 2017

In a letter to fellow members, state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz says House leadership now is planning to bifurcate its legislation to eliminate Enterprise Florida and to overhaul VISIT FLORIDA.
The Senate, however, so far still intends to keep Enterprise Florida as part of its economic development tool chest.
On Monday, Diaz – the Miami-Dade Republican who chairs the House Commerce Committee – wrote an email titled “Accountability – Everyone is for it, Right? We’ll see…” about his chamber’s proposal (HB 7005).
“We have heard from members and stakeholders that they would prefer if Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA were addressed in separate bills,” he wrote. “Dividing the issues into separate bills allows for more engaged and meaningful debate while putting VISIT FLORIDA on a path to real reform.”
Originally, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, aimed to abolish both the state’s economic development organization, dispenser of many of the state’s business incentives, and its tourism marketing agency, both public-private endeavors.
The speaker had threatened to sue VISIT FLORIDA after it refused to reveal a secret deal with Miami rap superstar Pitbull to promote Florida tourism, later revealed to be worth up to $1 million. The ensuing controversy cost former agency CEO Will Seccombe his job.
But Corcoran later decided to salvage the tourism agency from the legislative wrecking ball, though stripping it down to a bare $25 million yearly budget from nearly $80 million.
As is, the combined bill cleared its review panels and was ready to be considered by the full House when the 2017 Legislative Session begins March 7.
Its sponsor, Republican Paul Renner of Palm Coast, has instead filed new legislation (HB 9) that addresses VISIT FLORIDA on its own. It will first be heard March 6 by the Rules & Policy Committee, the House website shows.
It “contains the accountability and oversight provisions introduced last week,” Diaz said. “The bill also tightens private matching requirements and clarifies that

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