Ron DeSantis

About all that hype over Boeing’s move … much ado about not much?

Boeing’s relocation of its Space and Launch division headquarters from northern Virginia to the Space Coast will be more aspirational than material when completed later this year, as few actual jobs are tied to the move.

“We’re not sharing numbers now, but it will be a small number of senior divisional leaders and support staff,” replied Dan Beck, a spokesman for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, on Wednesday.

Transplanted workers, who will start moving this summer, will occupy a Boeing facility already in Titusville, Beck added.

Seattle-based Boeing, which for six decades has maintained a presence at Cape Canaveral, noted in a release that the move won’t impact company space operations in California, Texas, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana.

Still, the move was heralded by Florida officials as a testament to the Sunshine State being a leader in innovation and job growth.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a release he expects the move will “bring increased investment to the Space Coast,” while state Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican from Brevard County, in the same release said, “Florida families will benefit from this great news.”

Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, said the move “solidifies Florida’s position in becoming the global leader in space exploration.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott declared in a release that “it’s no surprise that Boeing chose our great state.”

And U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio described the announcement as Florida continuing “to be a leader in space exploration and development.”

State Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican, called the move “the latest example of Florida’s resurgent commercial aerospace industry.”

In its release, Boeing noted the timing comes as the company increases a partnership with U.S. Air Force partners at Cape Canaveral and with the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base.

“Expanding our Boeing presence on the Space Coast brings tremendous value for our commercial and government space programs,” said Jim Chilton, Space and Launch senior vice president, in a company release.

— By Jim Turner.

 

Jerusalem hearts DeSantis

It appears Gov. Ron DeSantis and his cast of 100 lawmakers, business leaders and university officials earned some love from the locals during an economic-development mission in Israel.

The sojourn, which included a “ceremonial” meeting of DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet generated some controversy back home.

But The Jerusalem Post editorial board gave the Republican governor a big thumbs up as the tour wrapped up Thursday.

“Thank You, Gov. DeSantis,” the headline on the editorial read, right above a pull-out quote from DeSantis: “Florida will always stand with Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East.”

Below are some excerpts:

“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis showed once again that he is a true friend of Israel during his visit to the country this week.

Even before his trip to Israel, in the weeks after DeSantis was elected governor last year, he immediately took action on behalf of the Jewish state. Florida’s cabinet recognized Jerusalem as “Israel’s eternal capital,” invested $10 million in Israel Bonds and blacklisted Airbnb because of its plan to boycott listings in West Bank settlements, which the global company has since reversed,” the editorial begins.

The editorial board also praised DeSantis for trashing the BDS movement:

This week, DeSantis repeatedly spoke out against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, leading the first official trade mission to the West Bank led by a US governor – with two dozen business leaders. He is also leading the largest-ever official governor-led delegation to Israel.

“Antisemitism is driving the BDS movement, and you cannot separate the two,” he said at the Gush Etzion Industrial Zone on Wednesday, meeting with Jewish and Arab businesspeople who oppose boycotts. “We are not going to discriminate against certain Israelis – and if people do… we will take action accordingly.”

DeSantis pointed to the blatant hypocrisy of the BDS movement, whose leadership’s stated goal is the elimination of the Jewish state and that Jews do not have the right to self-determination.

“You have people that are willing to trade with Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world – some of the worst regimes in the world – and yet they only want to boycott the one Jewish and democratic state in the world,” he said.
“If you support BDS in Florida, you are dead, politically,” he added.

And here’s the kicker:

DeSantis’ friendship with Israel is at a level that should not be taken for granted. He has backed up his statements with actions, and showed a willingness to continue.

Thank you, Governor DeSantis.

Inquiring minds headed to Israel

Gov. Ron DeSantis is about to lead a four-day trip to Israel, with nearly 90 tag-alongs that include Cabinet members, top-tier lobbyists, state lawmakers and religious leaders.

The governor publicly announced the trip in April, but since then the planning of the trip and questions about it have largely been kept secret. But as the voyage gets closer, the drip-drop of details are putting a spotlight on some of what’s in store.

One lingering question is how much the trip will cost Florida taxpayers. DeSantis’ spokeswoman Helen Ferre said about 80 members of the entourage are paying their own way.

At least one person footing their own bill said they’re staying at the Hilton in Tel Aviv, where they’ll be joined by a number of other members of the delegation who may be traveling on the taxpayer dime.

What’s the cost for one of those rooms? Accommodations range from $556 to $1,133 per night, according to the hotel’s website.

While questions about the cost and the substance of state officials’ meetings remain, two news organizations have announced they will be sending reporters to keep Floridians informed.

As of Thursday afternoon, two reporters have signed on to take the trip to Israel: Jeff Schweers, a state government reporter with the USA TODAY Network in Florida, and AG Gancarski, a reporter with Florida Politics.

“Coming next week (and assuming he gets past customs), intrepid reporter @AGGancarski will be reporting from @GovRonDeSantis and the Florida Cabinet’s historic trip to Jerusalem,” tweeted Peter Schorsch, the publisher of Florida Politics.

Schweers also got a last-minute OK from his company to make the trip.

By Ana Ceballos.

Florida’s first Lottery chief to DeSantis: Axe the warning!

Tennessee Education Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Paul Hargrove, who was Florida’s first Lottery secretary, is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto a controversial measure that would require Lottery tickets and promotions to carry a warning that the games may be addictive.

The warnings could cause a $61 million hit to education in Florida, and could have a major impact on lottery sales nationally, according to Hargrove, who’s also the president of the World Lottery Association.

The Florida bill (HB 629) would require warnings to take up 10 percent of the space on the front of a ticket. Retailers also have to post warnings wherever the tickets are sold.

House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, pushed the proposal.

“The bottom line is, what’s important for people to know is that (the) Lottery, unlike other types of things that we consider possibly habitual or dangerous, is carried out by the state and does nothing to warn people of its habitual nature,” the speaker told reporters earlier this month.

Hargrove said she’s not aware of any other state that requires a warning to take up 10 percent of the front of the ticket, and warned that the warning message will have a “substantial negative impact” not only on the Florida Lottery but on the industry as a whole.

The warning “interferes” with bar codes on the tickets, cautioned Hargrove, who repeatedly referred to the “good causes” supported by state lotteries in her letter to the governor.

And the warning will have a “substantial negative impact on the aesthetics of the ticket,” the 36-year Lottery veteran warned.

“The play area of the ticket is the core of the appeal of these games to the consumer. Reducing the play area of the ticket will reduce the entertainment and play value of the instant game,” she predicted.

Retailers may not want to sell the instant scratch-off games “due to the negative image this warning message conveys about addiction,” Hargrove added.

The warnings could lead to a $235 million reduction in Lottery sales, which would result in a $61 million hit to education. In addition, retailers would lose about $14.1 million in commissions.

Hargrove also said she’s worried that Florida’s warnings could spread to other states.

“Our industry would not want Florida to set in motion a trend in legislatures that ultimately leads to a reduction in dollars for lottery beneficiaries, including college scholarships, pre-K funding, healthcare funding, programs that support senior citizens and state budgets,” she wrote.

Too much winning for ‘Governor Ron?’

DSC_2851-SPresident Donald Trump told a crowd Wednesday that his brand of “winning” may have been too much for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

As he was wrapping up an approximately 90-minute speech during a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, Trump recalled DeSantis coming at some unspecified time to see him in the White House.

“Governor Ron, he’d say, ‘President please,’ in the Oval Office, ‘please we’re winning too much, we’re not used to this Mr. President, we’re not used to this,’ ” Trump, whose endorsement of DeSantis in last year’s gubernatorial race helped boost the former congressman to victory, said.

“ ‘For years and years, we’ve been losers, we’ve been losing Mr. President,’ ” Trump continued to quote DeSantis. “ ‘Now we’re winning, the people of Florida can’t stand winning so much. Can you maybe pull it back a little bit Mr. President?’ ”

“And I said, ‘No I can’t Ron, I’m sorry,’ ” Trump said.

DeSantis’ spokeswoman, Helen Ferré, helped to translate Trump’s remarks.

“The President was using good humor to say that Governor DeSantis is taking great care of Florida,” she said in an email.
By Jim Turner.

Whaaat? Big Pharma asks DeSantis to veto Canadian drug importation plan

Move over Don Quixote. Here comes PhRMA President and  Chief Executive Officer Stephen J. Ubl tilting at windmills.

Ubl, head of the officially known as the Pharmaceutical  Manufacturing and Research Association, sent a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, politely congratulating the Republican governor on hitting the milestone of his first 100 days in office.

“I look forward to working alongside you to ensure Floridians have access to affordable medicines and hope you will not hesitate to call upon me if I can ever be of assistance,” Ubl wrote.

Then Ubl asks DeSantis for what seems impossible — a veto of HB 19, the  Canadian drug importation program. Getting Canadian drugs into Florida is DeSantis’ top health care priority, and is also a priority for House Speaker Jose Oliva.

“When this bill is officially sent to your desk, I encourage you to consider vetoing it.,” Ubl wrote. “While your goal of lowering the costs of prescription medicines for Floridians is one I share, the biopharmaceutical industry has serious concerns with any proposal that could put patient safety at risk.”

Ubl outlines several alternatives to the Canadian drug importation program.

“First, we believe that patients should benefit from the more than $166 billion in rebates and discounts provided to insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, the government and other entities in the supply chain in 2018,” he wrote. “On average, 40 percent of the list price of medicines are given as rebates, but too often, patients never reap the benefits of these discounts. Ensuring they do is one step you can take to provide relief to the Floridians struggling to afford their medicines.”

The prescription drug importation program was a hotly contested issue during the 2019 session. DeSantis on Saturday joked that the proposal (HB 19) was a “stimulus” for Tallahassee lobbyists who were hired to kill the proposal.

DeSantis was in Washington on Monday discussing the plan, which requires federal approval, with President Donald Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar on the issue.

DeSantis hasn’t received the bill yet; once he does, the governor will have 15 days to sign it into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

“Usually people never want to touch prescription drugs because you see all the stuff coming down,” DeSantis told reporters Saturday, referring to an ad blitz blasting the drug importation plan. “But we said, let’s just do the right thing. Let’s hang in there, and that will be better for Florida. I think there was just a lot of opportunities to lead, and I took them, but then these guys in the Legislature took them as well, so that’s a good thing.”

By The News Service of Florida’s health care maven, Christine Sexton.

Dems to Putnam: Don’t let the door hit you …

Former Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s exit from the public sector — and from the Sunshine State — won’t be missed by the Florida Democratic Party.

unnamedMemphis-based Ducks Unlimited on Wednesday named Putnam, who was the “establishment” favorite in last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary but was trounced by Gov. Ron DeSantis, as its chief executive.

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Donohoe bid an actual “good riddance” to the former congressman from Bartow.

“Over the course of his twenty-year career in politics, Adam Putnam endangered Floridians’ safety, helped destroy our environment and turned the Department of Agriculture into a national embarrassment,” Donohoe said in a statement. “Putnam is the ultimate career politician and his name will forever be associated with scandal, incompetence and corruption in Florida. Putnam always promised to put Florida First, and he’s finally done that by leaving the state and giving up on public life. Good riddance.”

The announcement from Ducks Unlimited notes that Putnam “plans to move to Memphis in the coming months.”

“My vision for DU is to bring together conservation-minded folks from all walks of life, whether they’re farmers, city-dwellers, veterans, biologists, hunters…anyone who has a connection to landscapes, which is everyone,” Putnam said in DU release. “If we are going to fill the skies with waterfowl, we must build a coalition of people who believe waterfowl-filled skies matter. We need to work together to reach a common goal of healthy wetlands and abundant water for wildlife, people and their communities across North America.”

By Jim Turner.