Rick Scott

White nationalist speech at UF: Should I stay or should I go?

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and University of Florida President Kent Fuchs are urging students, faculty and others to shun firebrand white nationalist Richard Spencer, who’s speaking at the college tomorrow.

But Florida Democrats issued a press release this morning saying they support peaceful protestors and it’s incumbent on those who disagree with Spencer to speak out.

“The Florida Democratic Party reiterates its support for all peaceful protesters who are standing up and speaking out,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel said in the release. “We have a moral obligation to refute hate and bigotry whenever they present themselves. White supremacy is an evil we cannot ignore. When leaders like our governor fail to challenge the President for embracing white supremacists, it becomes all the more urgent that the rest of us speak out—clearly, unequivocally, and loudly. We must let it be known that we reject hatred in all its forms.”
Responding to a request by Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency for the county. The executive order allows for coordination between state and local law enforcement agencies. Darnell said her request wasn’t based on any heightened security risks, but was a preventative measure.

Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning, Bondi said she was praying “nothing happens” and urged students not to go to the event, while saying “there is no place for espousing these horrible, horrible views.”

Bondi said law enforcement will be well-prepared.

But, she added, “There is just no place right now for this, but you know with free speech, if he’s going to get up there and do it, then he’s going to do it. But we are going to make sure that our students and our citizens are protected.”

Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute, was among the speakers at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors. Heather Heyer was killed and dozens of others were injured.
Clashes between Spencer supporters, some of whom are white supremacists and others who back his white separatist ideology, and “Antifa,” or anti-fascist, groups have taken place on other campuses where Spencer has spoken.

Bill analysis, NSF-style

IMG_1635 (1)
The 2017 regular session yielded a pretty typical performance by Gov. Rick Scott’s veto pen when it came to House and Senate bills.

Scott vetoed 11 of the 241 bills passed in the session, above his seven-year average of 7.9 vetoed bills per regular session. In four of the seven years he has been in office, Scott has reached double-digit bill vetoes, with his high of 12 vetoed bills following the 2012 session.

His low was one bill vetoed following the 2014 session, when Scott was seeking re-election, and the Legislature passed 255 bills. The lone victim of his veto pen was a controversial bill that would have raised the speed limit to 75 mph on interstate highways and would have made speed-limit adjustments to other major roadways.

The 241 bills passed by the Legislature this year in the regular session is a dip in the 262 average during Scott’s tenure. The passed bills have ranged from a low of 227 bills in 2015, when the Legislature had a procedural meltdown in the final week, to a high of 283 passed bills in the 2013 session.

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger

Slouching toward special session on pot

IMG_0600Senate President Joe Negron said Thursday that House and Senate leaders are working toward a deal on the roll-out of a voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions.

Legislators will almost certainly deal with medical marijuana during a special session at some point this summer, even if Gov. Rick Scott’s handling of the budget doesn’t force the Legislature back to the Capitol anyway.

Negron told The News Service of Florida Thursday that “there are ongoing discussions” between the House and Senate focused on “trying to reach a middle ground on the licenses and dispensaries issues.”

The number of marijuana operators — now at seven — and how many retail outlets they can each run were the major sticking points between the two chambers during the regular session that ended last month.

The Senate favored more vendors but wanted to limit the number of storefronts they could operate. The House supported a plan with fewer marijuana operators who could each open up to 100 retail stores.

A potential deal went up in smoke on the final day of the session, prompting both critics and supporters of Amendment 2 to demand a special session to address the issue. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, has said he supports a special session on pot, as do Senate leaders, including Sen. Bill Galvano, who will take over as president late next year, and Negron.

The House and Senate are discussing “other ancillary issues” apart from the numbers of licenses and dispensaries, the Senate president said Thursday.

“But if we can reach a consensus on the regulatory framework for implementation of Amendment 2, I think the other issues will fall into place,” Negron, R-Stuart, said.

It’s unclear whether Scott’s line-item vetoes will require lawmakers to return to deal with the budget.

But Negron said lawmakers have “an obligation to implement medical marijuana” regardless of how the budget fares.

“Obviously, if a special session became necessary on the budget and medical marijuana, it would make sense to hold them simultaneously, but I don’t think we’re there yet,” he said.


Scott backs Trump on immigration

Gov. Rick Scott weighed in Tuesday on President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order requiring additional vetting of nationals from seven countries with a majority of Muslim residents.

Scott, a major Trump supporter, praised the president for his focus on “the security of Americans.”

“I believe we now have a president that is going to work with the state of Florida to be concerned about the safety of Floridians that live here and all the people that visit here,” the Republican governor told reporters and editors at The Associated Press’s annual pre-session gathering in the Capitol.

When pressed by a reporter about the difference between Trump’s order targeting Muslims and Scott’s criticism of  President Obama’s order that ended the “wet foot/dry foot” policy for Cuban immigrants, Scott said that Obama issued the directive without consulting members of Congress — some of the same criticism Republicans and Democrats alike are lobbing at Trump now.

“With regard to what President Obama did with regard to Cuba, we have members of our Congress that are of Cuban dissent, didn’t reach out to them. He didn’t create a safety net for people that are leaving a brutal dictatorship, i.e. Raul Castro,” Scott said.

Trump will “tweak” his immigration ban “to make sure it works,” Scott went on.

“He believes in the security of all Americans but more importantly he does understand we have to be the safety net country for people who are leaving oppression,” he said.

Scott elaborated about the president’s impact on Florida later.

“We happen to be the best melting pot in the world,” Scott said, noting that 150 languages are spoken in the state, which is a magnet for foreign emigres.

“Now, let’s put it into perspective. We love tourists. Our immigration system is a disaster. There’s no sense to it. It didn’t get better under president Obama. My goal is, with President Trump, that we have a system that, one, we keep Americans safe and we continue to welcome people that want to come here and help us build our country.”

Florida is “completely tied to the world economy,” Scott added.

“A third of the people who moved here last year moved from another country. It’s remarkable,” he said. “So we’ve got to do this right. But we know that the system we have today is not working.”